Shropshire Council

Fraud and corruption

We take fraud and corruption very seriously. Whilst we have a range of controls in place to prevent, detect and investigate fraud, we also rely on the vigilance of the community, partners and our staff to help us detect fraudsters.

If you suspect that someone is committing fraud against the council we'd like to know about it. All referrals will be treated as confidential.

You can find details on how we'll respond to you in our whistleblowing policy 'Speaking up about wrongdoing' which is attached to this page.

Types of fraud and corruption

Grants

We award several different grants to individuals and organisations. These range from house renovation grants to voluntary organisations providing services to the community. Grant fraud usually involves either making false claims in order to obtain a grant or providing false accounts of how the money is spent.

Insurance claims

We receive some bogus insurance claims, particularly related to trips and falls on the pavement. This is a serious problem, which drains resources away from repairing and improving the highways themselves.

Asylum seekers

We have an obligation to provide care to unaccompanied asylum seekers under the age of 18 and to children of asylum seekers, and to provide assistance to asylum seekers with no other means of support. This is another area where we can fall prey to fraudsters using false identities or lying about their circumstances, for example income, accommodation, or age.

Blue badges

Blue badges can be misused, such as someone using another person’s badge or a photocopy of a badge to avoid parking costs. Blue badges are highly marketable, and any misuse can lead to a loss of revenue to us, as well as inconvenience to those who do qualify for a badge. Using stolen or fake blue badges, or allowing a family member or friend to use a badge without the badge holder in the vehicle, is fraud, and can mean a fine of up to £1,000.

Housing tenancy fraud

We have a limited number of houses available to let, and they're let to people with greatest need. Families in need of housing lose out when others fraudulently obtain council housing or sublet it for personal gain.

Tenancy fraud involves obtaining properties by deception, for example individuals claiming to be homeless when they already own a property, are already living at an address, or are continuing to claim to be living at a property when they've moved out and sublet it.

We have a duty to house certain vulnerable people, for example those who are homeless, and at times we're forced to use and pay for expensive temporary accommodation (such as bed and breakfasts) due to a shortage of council housing.

In addition, families or individuals on the housing register are denied housing because people are using council properties for profit, or simply queue jumping.

Please contact us if you know or suspect anyone of subletting or fraudulently taking possession of a property. Call the Audit Team on 01743 252081, or if you wish to raise your concerns in confidence or anonymously, please phone the whistleblowing number on 01743 252627.

Bribery and corruption

Corruption can occur in many areas of our business - from an officer or councillor using their position to secure a job or a council house for a friend or family member, to a contractor providing cash, goods, or services in kind to a councillor or officer in return for the award of a contract. Corruption prevents us from obtaining value for money and erodes confidence in the organisation.

We have codes of conduct for councillors and officers, as well as controls to prevent corruption. However, these can never be foolproof and we need you to blow the whistle on any corrupt acts relating to the council.

If you know or suspect any councillor, officer or contractor accepting or soliciting bribes, favours or other rewards for acting in their official capacity, please call the Standards hotline on 01743 2526527 or email the Audit Team on audit@shropshire.gov.uk

Identity theft

Identity theft is the unlawful taking of another person's details without their permission. Stolen information can be used to obtain many financial services goods and other forms of identification, eg passports and driving licenses. Stolen information can range from a copy of a birth certificate to copies of discarded bank or credit card statements and utility bills.

Identity theft allows criminals to conduct criminal activity in your name in the knowledge that any follow-up investigations won't lead to them. With your details they can obtain documents that are in essence real, but which contain false information making it difficult for organisations to verify who they're dealing with.

Be careful with your personal information. If you receive a phone call from a credit card company, bank or other retail company asking you to confirm certain details about yourself decline them and tell them you will call them back, preferably through a central switchboard. Also, don't reveal your personal details when using your mobile phone in a public place. When destroying personal correspondence such as bank and credit card statements consider using a shredder, or burning them on the garden refuse. If you can't do either then tear the papers up into very small pieces and put them in your black bin with your other residual waste.

If you move house remember to inform all of the companies that send personal information to you in the post. Always consider redirecting your post with Royal Mail. If you fail to do this people moving in might have free access to your personal details and misappropriate them.

You may be a victim of identity theft if any of the following has happened to you:

  • You're missing your regular monthly statements
  • You've noticed charges to your accounts that aren't yours (remember to check all statements, especially bank and credit card ones)
  • You've been contacted by a debt collection agency about outstanding payments for items or services that you haven't ordered

Protect yourself - act quickly

Don't ignore the problem. It might not be you who's ordered some goods or opened an account, but the debt falls to your name and address. Once you're blacklisted for credit it may take many years to fully resolve the problem. You might have difficulties in obtaining a mortgage or other bank credit. Contact your local police, report the crime and ask for a crime reference number to give to the companies that allege you've opened an account with them. Visit the Home Office identity theft website for more information.

Advance fee fraud

Advance fee fraud is a common crime which involves myriad schemes and scams - mail, fax, and telephone promises designed to make victims part with their money. These schemes and scams usually claim to be from a general or politician in a foreign country who has a large sum of money (millions of pounds) which they wish to get out of a country, and need help in getting it out, with the promise of a substantial share of the cash in return. If you receive requests of this sort report them to the police. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Fraud hotline

  • Email: audit@shropshire.gov.uk
  • Call: 01743 252627