Rishi Sunak has announced a landmark provision in today’s Budget for a £100m task force dedicated to tackling Covid-related fraud.
The Taxpayer Protection Taskforce will consist of over 1,250 HMRC operatives responsible for detecting and investigating those who have fraudulently claimed taxpayer’s money through schemes such as furlough and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
However, while added investment is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, simply throwing more money at the problem will not breed success. Without a cutting-edge approach to data analytics, HMRC’s prevent fraud prevention will likely fall short of the mark.
Ivan Heard, Global Head of Fraud Solutions at Quantexa said, “The pandemic relief programs have unfortunately been targeted by both opportunistic and organised criminals. HMRC investigators have a monumental task ahead – they will need to sift through an overwhelming volume of data in order to detect and stop the fraud. They will need to see how this data reflects circumstances in the real world and figure out which individuals and businesses the information points at – and how they can be stopped. With a holistic view of data, many of these fraud attempts could have been prevented.
“Human intelligence, however experienced the investigators, falls short of such a mammoth task, and the Government will no doubt look to automated anti-fraud technology in order to make sense and meaning out of the data. Government agencies using data-driven, analytical approaches to fraud prevention can discover risks and threats faster compared to traditional methods.
“We can expect to see a lot more headlines about fraud and abuse in the next 18 months as this taskforce reveals the true extent of the issue. Combining human and machine intelligence is the only way for the HMRC investigators to tackle this task and relieve the taxpayer of this burden.”