Four arrests were made in a series of dawn raids as part of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) crackdown on organised crime gangs targeting the benefits system.
A total of three men, aged 31, 47, and 71; and one woman, aged 38, were taken into custody.
Will Quince, Minister for Welfare Delivery at the Department for Work and Pensions, is pictured (left) with police attending one of the raids in Thornton Heath on May 27.
It is alleged an organised crime gang created fake documents with the intention for people to make false Universal Credit claims.
DWP’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit investigated the fraud alongside partners in other Government departments including the Home Office.
DWP’s National Covert Operations Team carried out surveillance on a number of individuals.
The Minister said: “We take abuse of taxpayers’ money very seriously and work with police forces across the country to track down and punish those who commit fraud.
“We use the full powers of the law to secure convictions and recoup money stolen – we’re making sure benefit fraud does not pay.
“In addition, we have built in new safeguards to protect taxpayers’ money from fraudulent individuals and organised crime groups. This includes increasing the number of trained investigators and bolstering intelligence teams to monitor and respond to fraud.”
The move comes after the DWP released its annual fraud and error statistics earlier this month which showed it recently prevented £1.7 billion from being paid to people trying to scam the system by taking advantage of temporary verification easements introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes were made as the Department prioritised making sure money reached claimants – those most in need at this challenging time – as soon as possible.
The Department further stated that around one million suspicious claims made during the pandemic are being retrospectively evaluated and that those committing fraud should expect a ‘tap on the shoulder’.
Pictures of the arrests featured on BBC News.