The government is handing huge wodges of cash to identity thieves because of a loophole in Universal Credit that the Tories were either too stupid to anticipate, or about which they simply didn’t care.
In all honesty, the scam also relies on the victims themselves being stupid and desperate.
Fortunately for the scammers, economic conditions created by – guess who? – the Conservative government has nurtured an atmosphere of desperation among thousands upon thousands of people who are living hand-to-mouth – and desperation leads people to do unwise things.
It works like this:
The scammer approaches the victim – a person in need of quick cash – and offers to get them a government grant or a payday loan for a small fee. They demand the victim’s identity details.
How do these scammers know who to target? The victim on the BBC News website says she was approached by a smartly-dressed man with a Job Centre Plus card. Where are these people getting their information?
The scammer then simply goes online and makes a Universal Credit claim in the victim’s name, demanding an advance loan in the process.
The DWP’s online system automatically approves the claim because it doesn’t know any better and transfers the money into the victim’s bank account – from which the scammer then takes a huge amount of the money that has been handed over.
The victim is left with a small fraction of the loan, but owing the entire amount back to the DWP. Not only that, but any other benefits they may have been claiming will have been cancelled.
So the victim is left much worse-off – and the government department doesn’t care. It will pursue them for the full amount.
It seems the scam works because of Universal Credit’s “digital by design” nature; the computerised system automatically approves the application, no matter how bizarre the claims in it.
So thousands of pounds have been given in response to claims on behalf of (allegedly) a 19-year-old with six blind children, people with children called Lisa, Bart and Homer – or indeed Ha, Ha and Ha – and people claiming “Harry Kane” is their landlord.
Apparently 100,000 or more such advances are being paid every month. At up to £1,500 a go, that’s a lot of money.
Now get ready for the double-punchline.
Remember when the Tories were trying to accuse genuinely sick and disabled people of benefit fraud, claiming they were “scroungers” and “skivers” to take their cash and drive them to their deaths?
The fraud rate at the time was just two per cent. Now, DWP estimates suggest fraud has skyrocketed – because of a loophole that the government built into the system.
That’s the first punchline.
Here’s the second: This scam was reported by the Daily Express more than a month ago but the BBC has only brought it to wider public attention today.
Why the delay?
Is it because nobody trusts the news media anymore, after they spent the last few years pushing pro-Tory government propaganda?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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