Council stung by £170k fraud

Crime story
Crime story

BRAZEN fraudsters attempted to fleece Wigan Council out of more than £170,000.

Officials told the council’s Audit, Governance and Improvement Review Committee that the authority was defrauded of £171,000. It’s believed the scam involved changing a council contractor’s bank details so legitimate payments would be diverted to a different account.

The cash was taken from the authority’s bank account but the missing funds have since been refunded by one of the banks involved in the transfer.

An investigation involving the police, the contractor, council chiefs and the national anti-fraud network has since been launched.

According to the report, the fraud related to a contractor payment made on September 3, 2013.

Town Hall chiefs were subsequently notified of the fraud on June 16 last year.

One extract of the report read: “The authority is fully aware that such fraud is currently prevalent and does have appropriate control processes in place that are designed to prevent such occurrences; and the matter is being investigated internally by management and internal audit.

“The authority is alert to such attempts and has restricted the intelligence that is available publicly. The matter is currently being addressed on several fronts with the police, contractor, national anti-fraud network and the assistant director of HR&OD.”

It added: “The authority has recently received full repayment of the funds involved from the third party bank and, accordingly, has not suffered any financial loss.”

A Wigan Council spokeswoman confirmed that the fraud involved an attempt to alter a council contractor’s bank account details.

She added: “This a risk common to all large organisations and we are grateful that, through working with our bank, we managed to prevent any false payment being made.

“Part of the role of the Audit Committee is to discuss the learning from issues such as this and it is reassuring to know that our auditors concluded in the report that we do have the necessary controls in place.”