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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit migration  →  Thread

Fraudulent claim for UC

Pete at CAB
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I’m sure there was a thread on this but I can’t find it.

Cl has had a completely fraudulent UC claim made in their name -  the first they knew about it was that their HB and Tax Creds have stopped. Cl has not had any UC paid to them or even spoken to anyone about UC so it seems like it was a form of identity theft which may have been helped by the lack of face to face identity checks ( unless the fraudster had enough info for ‘Verify’) Police are not interested as the cl has not been defrauded, the only person who has directly lost money is DWP.

To my mind this was not a valid claim for UC, the stop notices to HMRC and HB should be withdrawn and Tax Creds anr HB reinstated. 
any observations, caselaw or previous experiences welcome

CHAC Adviser
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I’ve seen this once so far. A vulnerable client with an appointee for DWP benefits was a victim of this. DWP were very very quick to restore ESA (indeed the clients appointee managed this themselves!) but HMRC for the Child Tax Credit dragged their feet for months. This is all went down in July 2019 and the CTC wasn’t finally restored until March 2020. I started assisting the client in January 2020 and submitted a formal written complaint which is what finally seemed to get HMRC to move.

Prior to then it seemed to boil down to HMRC basically didn’t believe the claim was fraudulent so until my complaint they were probably not going to do anything about it ever. This even though the DWP put the ESA back into pay without a quibble. Reading between the lines of the final letter that HMRC sent they were basically saying “we don’t believe you, we think you claimed UC deliberately but we can’t prove it and the DWP aren’t being helpful to us proving it so we’re going to put your CTC back into pay with backdate. But if we ever do manage to prove you lied we’ll take this money back”. They phrased it differently but that was their implication.

So in the one case I’ve had so far. DWP were excellent and HMRC were a nightmare.

In my complaint I also quoted parts of this exchange from a Select Committee hearing:

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/480a6f61-b932-4f26-bf5d-c893e566d5ea?in=10:46:12&out=10:47:50

Andrew Dutton
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This is the thread from a while back - https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/14469

I haven’t seen any cases lately but I found DWP’s response o be variable - sometimes very good, getting the person back on to legacy benefits, sometimes appalling,  blaming the victim and refusing to help.

Jon (CHDCA)
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CHAC Adviser - 29 May 2020 02:26 PM

I’ve seen this once so far. A vulnerable client with an appointee for DWP benefits was a victim of this. DWP were very very quick to restore ESA (indeed the clients appointee managed this themselves!) but HMRC for the Child Tax Credit dragged their feet for months. This is all went down in July 2019 and the CTC wasn’t finally restored until March 2020. I started assisting the client in January 2020 and submitted a formal written complaint which is what finally seemed to get HMRC to move.

Prior to then it seemed to boil down to HMRC basically didn’t believe the claim was fraudulent so until my complaint they were probably not going to do anything about it ever. This even though the DWP put the ESA back into pay without a quibble. Reading between the lines of the final letter that HMRC sent they were basically saying “we don’t believe you, we think you claimed UC deliberately but we can’t prove it and the DWP aren’t being helpful to us proving it so we’re going to put your CTC back into pay with backdate. But if we ever do manage to prove you lied we’ll take this money back”. They phrased it differently but that was their implication.

So in the one case I’ve had so far. DWP were excellent and HMRC were a nightmare.

In my complaint I also quoted parts of this exchange from a Select Committee hearing:

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/480a6f61-b932-4f26-bf5d-c893e566d5ea?in=10:46:12&out=10:47:50

In a case we’ve had, HMRC’s position was that they will not examine the purported UC claim or the circs in which a stop notice was issued, they say that’s entirely up to the DWP. If, and only if, the stop notice is rescinded by DWP will they reinstate tax credits. The UC regs make a presumption that the UC claim is made by the person named on it, it’s apparently not down to HMRC to rebut this. This should cut both ways though, if DWP do rescind the stop notice, it shouldn’t be up to HMRC to second-guess that.

Another case which was admin error rather than fraud had DWP and HMRC essentially each blaming the other for the error that led to the stop notice being issued. It’s not very joined up, we wouldn’t have resolved that case without pushing parallel complaints.

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Jon (CHDCA) - 01 June 2020 01:50 PM

In a case we’ve had, HMRC’s position was that they will not examine the purported UC claim or the circs in which a stop notice was issued, they say that’s entirely up to the DWP. If, and only if, the stop notice is rescinded by DWP will they reinstate tax credits. The UC regs make a presumption that the UC claim is made by the person named on it, it’s apparently not down to HMRC to rebut this. This should cut both ways though, if DWP do rescind the stop notice, it shouldn’t be up to HMRC to second-guess that.

Yes that was similar to their position in mine. Their initial response to my complaint was that they’d asked the DWP to look into the matter again and would have to wait and see what that the outcome of that was. To be fair the DWP seemed to have responded promptly as my client and their appointee were visited by the DWP shortly afterwards to talk about it (which confused them as they’d already done that once before). After which I assume that the DWP reported back that their first assessment from July 2019 was correct. It was fraud and not on the part of my client!

I don’t *know* but I assumed that once the stop notice was gone that that was basically why HMRC eventually caved in as their position would be hard to continue to justify. Though if we hadn’t gotten involved who knows when, if ever, they’d have deigned to put the CTC back into payment. The tone of their letter rather led me to believe, to be honest, that they had no intention of ever doing so…

Pete at CAB
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A little more info has come to light- the fraudulent claimant had a different name, all the children on the claim had the wrong dates of birth and ages, the bank was a completely different one to that which the cl uses. The only things that were correct were the DoB of the cl , address and NINO.

This begs the question about what was included in the stop notice to HB and HMRC- was it just a NINo or was there enough info that they could reasonably conclude that it was not the same person and refuse to act on the stop notice -does anyone know what the stop notices actually look like?

Pete at CAB
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I’ve put in an FOI request to find out what is contained in the stop notices. If it is nothing other that a NINo and an instruction to stop Tax Creds/HB then it might be suggested that the DWP had deprived HB/HMRC of a reasonable ‘backstop’ to prevent fraudulent claims stopping ‘legacy’ benefits?

[ Edited: 8 Jun 2020 at 10:37 am by Pete at CAB ]
Jon (CHDCA)
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Attached is how HMRC presented a stop notice in an appeal, it’s one of their typical screencaps from their computer system (I feel sorry for them when they have to present dozens of screencaps, you can see from the clock in the bottom-right how many hours it’s taken some poor soul to work through them all for the appeal or SAR papers..)

Note that the notice was received on the same date the UC claim started, suggesting it’s entirely automated.

[ Edited: 8 Jun 2020 at 11:51 am by Jon (CHDCA) ]

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Pete at CAB
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Jon (CHDCA) - 08 June 2020 11:48 AM

Attached is how HMRC presented a stop notice in an appeal, it’s one of their typical screencaps from their computer system (I feel sorry for them when they have to present dozens of screencaps, you can see from the clock in the bottom-right how many hours it’s taken some poor soul to work through them all for the appeal or SAR papers..)

Note that the notice was received on the same date the UC claim started, suggesting it’s entirely automated.

Might we draw a conclusion that it is possible for the stop notice to go out before the ID is actually established?

Jon (CHDCA)
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Pete at CAB - 08 June 2020 12:33 PM
Jon (CHDCA) - 08 June 2020 11:48 AM

Attached is how HMRC presented a stop notice in an appeal, it’s one of their typical screencaps from their computer system (I feel sorry for them when they have to present dozens of screencaps, you can see from the clock in the bottom-right how many hours it’s taken some poor soul to work through them all for the appeal or SAR papers..)

Note that the notice was received on the same date the UC claim started, suggesting it’s entirely automated.

Might we draw a conclusion that it is possible for the stop notice to go out before the ID is actually established?

Not necessarily, I should have said that the claim in my example was verified online rather than in person, I don’t know if the Stop Notice was issued before or after verification.
Now whether the Verify system actually achieves the job of reliably establishing someone’s identity is another question :).