The UK government is stepping up its efforts to fight fraud using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology. They’ve fortified their main fraud-spotting tool, the Single Network Analytics Platform (SNAP), with some major upgrades.

Now, SNAP can sniff out shady networks, activities, and users linked to organized crime or dodging sanctions.

“Criminals should be aware that we’re putting technology on the front line to detect fraud and protect taxpayers’ money,” said Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office.

“Adding sanctions and debarment data to our AI fraud detection tool will help us identify organized networks stealing from the public purse.”

What’s new in SNAP?

Well, they’ve added these three fresh sets of data:

  • Info on 18,000 UK and US entities facing sanctions, including those slapped with penalties due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Details on 1,000 entities barred by the World Bank from bagging its contracts.
  • Records of 647,000 UK dormant companies, those not making any money.

What prompted this attention?

It’s about assisting public entities such as government departments in detecting more individuals attempting to fraudulently obtain public funds through questionable contracts, grants, or loans.

SNAP, launched in 2023 through a £4 million collaboration with tech experts at Quantexa, is revolutionizing the fight against public sector fraud. And Minister Neville-Rolfe isn’t stopping there. She’s actively planning more initiatives to root out cunning fraudsters using AI, particularly those involved in practices like ‘phoenixing’ – where they repeatedly establish new companies to evade debts.

Fraud in the UK

Fraud is widespread in the UK, constituting over 40% of England and Wales’ crime, with 3.5 million incidents reported from April 2022 to March 2023. UK Finance reported £1.2 billion stolen through fraud in 2022, mostly starting online (78%).

In the past year, while unauthorized fraud saw a decrease of less than one percent, authorized push payment (APP) fraud losses amounted to £485.2 million, notably in investment and purchase fraud cases.

The government will keep upgrading the AI fraud detection tool with new data regularly, according to minister Neville-Rolfe.

In addition, she announced that, in the next year, the government will start some projects using AI to find new ways to spot fraud.

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