Council takes its fight against benefit cheats on to peoples’ phones

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FRAUDSTERS can now be reported to the authorities using a mobile phone app.

Fareham Borough Council has launched an app which lets residents with concerns about fraud report it anonymously at the touch of a button.

The app includes a description of each different type of fraud so that its users can quickly identify what they need to report.

It then asks for information that will allow the council to investigate.

Executive member for public protection, Councillor Trevor Cartwright, said: ‘This app will mean that residents can report fraud discreetly from their phone.

‘There is the option to remain anonymous so that those who are reporting something can feel safe, while helping to tackle fraudsters in Fareham.’

The app’s launch was welcomed by council leader Sean Woodward, who urged people to download it so they could play their part in catching the crooks.

He said: ‘We are after people guilty of benefit fraud and council tax discount fraud. We want to hear about it. Every one that we uncover and recover the money means that it is less council tax for everyone else to pay.

‘Any financial fraud is robbery of the public purse and it is right that residents help us to do everything we can to stop it.’

Cllr Woodward said the last major case for the council was that of Helen Batchelor, who fraudulently claimed more than £34,000 – despite having nearly £50,000 sitting in several different bank accounts.

Batchelor, 55, of Blaven Walk, Fareham admitted five counts of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit, from July 2007 until February 2013.

She was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court in September to 12 months imprisonment for each of the offences, to run concurrently, totalling one year.

Users of the app can read stories about recent successes in bringing down fraudsters in the area, as well as finding contact details for the council.

Cllr Cartwright said: ‘It is a free app that enables people to report fraud or corruption, both within the council and towards the council.

‘It is important people play their part as we all pay our council tax so anybody who is defrauding is taking money from the people who are paying their council tax.’

To download the app, search for Fareham Fraud Reporter on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.