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Allan Maund, Bromford's specialist in fraud and financial crime, discusses his experience catching an Aussie fraudster and shares best practices for the sector.

In the world of housing, challenges emerge that can ripple through our communities. At Bromford, our encounter with a particularly unique case not only put our methodologies to the test but also demonstrated the indispensable role of collaboration and investigative persistence. I refer to the intriguing incident of a customer who, unbeknown to Bromford, relocated to Australia, leaving an unauthorised occupant in our property. 

Discovering the fraud

Everything began with a hunch. A neighbourhood coach raised a concern about a genuine occupancy of one of our properties. The customer appeared to be conspicuously absent, replaced by an unknown individual. As we delved deeper, a picture of deception slowly unravelled.

We discovered that the customer had moved to Australia and started a new life. A different person had taken residence, paying rent that funded our customer's luxurious relocation. Recognising the gravity of such deceit in a community where the waiting list for two-bedroom flats was in the thousands, Bromford’s approach was twofold.

Reclaiming the property was step one. Step two revolved around accountability. With this in mind, we pursued an unlawful profit order, ensuring the customer answered for the profits accrued through underhanded subletting. The result was a court-mandated penalty of over £15,000, the exact profits from the sublet. 

The power of collaboration in detecting Fraud

Detecting housing fraud is not just about vigilance; it's deeply rooted in collaboration and information sharing. Housing providers often sit on vast pools of data, yet the untapped potential of this data in the realm of fraud detection remains significant. Externally, while individual fraud incidents are reported, these dialogues frequently remain restricted between the housing provider and the regulator. The real power can often lie in broader conversations and shared insights amongst providers.

While external connections are instrumental, we mustn't underestimate the power of in-house collaboration. At Bromford, we emphasise the importance of trust and mutual understanding amongst colleagues. By fostering these relationships and leveraging our shared knowledge, we build a formidable front against fraud. Bromford's proactive approach in 2022 led to the recovery of 33 properties. These results weren't solely due to information sharing but show the potential of collaboration. With an intensified collaborative spirit across the sector, I believe that even more fraud cases can be uncovered and resolved.

I extend an open invitation to all who are keen to explore the intricacies of fraud detection: join our network. Engage in a platform with information sharing, regular guest talks, and the opportunity to engage with global experts.

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