Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

collaboration is key in the fight against identity fraud


John Wright from IndigoBlue Consulting Ltd. shares his thoughts on the new initiatives that are helping to tackle identity document and online fraud in the public sector.

As is evident from the plethora of industry reports, fraud, and in particular online fraud, is a growing problem in the UK. Application and identity fraud now make up over half the identified fraud in 2014 (Cifas, 2015), with identity fraud dominating the fraud landscape.

While application fraud is on the decline, identity fraud is increasing despite the best efforts of the industry to combat this. The fabrication of fraudulent identities and fraudulent identity documents is being increasingly used by organised criminals to enable criminal activity in the UK, including:

  • fraud
  • gaining access to vulnerable children and adults
  • evading immigration
  • potential terrorist related activity.

What is being done?

Across the UK, public and private sector bodies are increasingly aware of the threat of identity fraud and are now more equipped to identify the fraudulent identity documents that enable identity fraud related crime to be committed. 

To support collaborative prevention activity, Government, through the Identity Assurance Programme and GOV.UK Verify, has built:

  • a National Fraudulent Identity Document Database that records fraudulent identity documents identified in the public and private sector
  • a Fraudulent Document Checking Service to help identify fraudsters using these fraudulent identity documents to gain access to services.

Cross community collaboration has been key to bringing this capability to market:

  • The Police community has shared fraudulent documents recovered from identity factory raids across the UK.
  • The Immigration community has shared fraudulent documents encountered at the UK Border or through process Immigration applications.
  • The private sector has shared fraudulent identity document data detected when applying for products or services.

Government agencies including DVLA, HMPO, Met Police, City of London Police, Borders and Immigration have enabled GOV.UK Verify to perform additional cross-government checks to prevent fraudulent access to online government services, and components of this service are also being used to support Policing and Immigration policies in the UK.

Retailers and financial institutions are using more sophisticated identity verification services which can now be integrated into the Document Checking Service being developed within Government to help prevent fraud. 

Through sharing identified fraudulent documents centrally all subscribed organisations can benefit from the prevention activities of others.

Finally, CIPFA’s Counter Fraud Centre has partnered with Central Government and BAE Systems to bring tools to the market to support fraud prevention and detection in Local Government.  The data sharing service, currently being piloted, will be making use of BAE’s NetReveal technology and will be supported with data from the Government’s Fraudulent Document Checking Service to help identify fraud against Local Government.

More information

  • Find out more about CIPFA’s data sharing hub being developed with BAE here.

About John Wright

John is Head of Public Sector Services at IndigoBlue Consulting with over 20 years of delivery experience.  Over the past five years he has been working with the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police Service, City Of London Police, UK Visas and Immigration and Government Digital Services’ Identity Assurance Programme to collect and make available fraudulent document data to help the public and private sector in their counter fraud objectives. John is also a passionate advocate of Agile Delivery and engaging the business community in the planning and prioritisation of the delivery of the product.