Man tries to claim £25,000 of taxpayer cash with pavement fall lie

A man tried to con taxpayers out of almost £25,000 after falsely claiming he'd hurt himself tripping over a pavement.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 2:40 pm
Updated Monday, 17th June 2019, 3:40 pm
The false claim was rumbled after Wakefield Council consulted the police

A Wakefield Council audit committee heard that the fraudulent claim against the local authority, which was made last year, was seen off after it emerged the man's injuries had actually been sustained in a fight.

Information from the police helped to rumble the insurance scam.

The incident came to light as a senior council officer revealed that fraudulent attacks against the council were becoming "more sophisticated".

The incident came to light at an audit committee meeting on Monday morning.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Councillors were told about recent attempts to swindle money out of the local authority on Monday morning.

Jason Brook, the council's governance manager for audit and risk, said: "We've been involved in an insurance attempt where somebody tripped over a pavement, allegedly.

"But it transpired when we liaised with the police, through the insurance manager, that they'd actually been involved in a fight, and they'd suffered the injuries through that fight.

"They were just trying it on with the council.

"Indicative values say that if we'd paid that insurance claim out, it would have been just short of £25,000.

"Through the work of the insurance section of the council and liaising with the police, we stopped that loss."

The man involved in the incident was not named at the meeting.

Figures revealed in a report showed that seven serious phishing emails were sent to Wakefield Council between April 2018 and March 2019, though none of those attempts were successful in obtaining cash.

Mr Brook said that in some cases fraudsters had posed as suppliers and senior members of the council to dupe staff into sending money.

He added: "I've seen some examples of recent attempts, and they're a lot more sophisticated now than what they used to be.

"You used to be able to tell just by reading the body of the email, that it wasn't from the said person.

"But now they're really able to spoof the email address, and the wording is a lot better.

"The key thing around counter fraud is staff being vigilant because they're often the first line of defence."

Last week it was revealed that the council had lost around £4,000 worth of property over the course of 12 months through thefts.

Laptops, bikes and leaf blowers were among the items stolen.

Mr Brook said that most thefts had come from council buildings being broken into and that the police were informed on each occasion.

Local Democracy Reporting Service