Public sector needs to get better at identifying deceased identity fraud.

Last week Ethel McGill, one of the UK’s biggest benefit fraudsters, was jailed for five years after she stole over £750,000 from social services. Her major source of income was claiming her deceased father’s war pension and benefits for almost 15 years. She even went as far as hiring someone to pretend to be her bedridden father to continue the charade when social services came to assess the family’s situation.

The judge did not hold back with his contempt for the crime, and he also noted how poorly the case made the authorities look for failing to recognise that McGill’s father had been dead for over a decade.

Deceased pension fraud is a common form of fraud and one that is growing as it is relatively easy to commit – as shown by the case above. A recent survey in Scotland which matches pension data against a list of deceased individuals found that £4.6 million worth of pension payments were made to deceased individuals over 12 months.

Clearly it is crucial that organisations such as the DWP protect against deceased identity fraud by regularly screening their databases against deceased fraud prevention products such as Halo or risk wasting millions of pounds of tax payers’ money to unscrupulous individuals looking to scam the system.