Northern Ireland

Suspected fraud reported by NI government rises by over £1m

Money
Image caption There has been an increase in the number of fraud cases in Northern Ireland reported by government departments

There has been a marked increase in the number of fraud cases in Northern Ireland reported by government departments.

According to a new report, the overall cost of suspected fraud rose from just over £500,00 to almost £1.8m last year.

Three hundred and two cases of actual, attempted, or suspected fraud were reported by government departments and their agencies last year.

This is a significant increase on previous years.

Some of the rise is due to cases from the Departments of Justice and Agriculture being included for the first time.

Social security fraud is recorded separately.

Most of the fraud or theft was carried out by third parties outside the public sector but one in five perpetrators were thought to be internal members of staff.

Examples ranged in size and value from items like cameras and iphones being stolen to cases involving dentistry and the work of an optician where there were suspected fraudulent claims of £15,000 and more than £100,000 for work not carried out.

The largest case of suspected fraud was a payment of £525,000 to a contractor - most of which has been returned.

Another major case involving a contractor is still on-going and has been passed to the police for investigation.