Investment in data strategy, technologies that support machine learning and artificial intelligence, and hiring skilled data professionals is a top priority for the UK government. Ministers of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have rolled out and tested AI to automate claims processing and fight fraud within their department. Over the last year, the department unleashed artificial intelligence algorithms to track down large-scale corruption of the benefit and welfare program to stop criminal gangs who are responsible for extremely large losses. Ultimately, this effort protects taxpayers’ money and gets the benefits to those who they are intended for.
Benefit fraud at the hands of criminal gangs cost the Department of Work and Pensions nearly £2.1 billion in 2016, a rise of £200 million in just one year. The losses to fraud equate to the entire budget of the Foreign Office, which is £1.1 billion annually. To combat this crime, ministers have launched Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect fraudulent claims. The algorithms look for patterns in claims such as the same phone number or applications written in the same style. Once a claim is flagged as suspicious, a human investigator takes over to determine if the claim is in fact fraudulent.
AI identifies possible issues faster than human investigators who in the past would have to assess every claim. Therefore, until recently, the department was focused on stopping individual benefit fraud and investigated people who were flagged as being suspicious at job centers. However, it’s the large-scale efforts by criminal gangs that contributes the bulk of the issue. By deploying AI, billions of items of data can be quickly reviewed, fake identity cloning techniques commonly used by fraudsters are detected and the claim payments can be stopped.
Artificial intelligence algorithms are also used to scour social media accounts to uncover inconsistencies in the stories people tell on social media and the claims they are making for benefits. Lavish holiday parties are a red flag if you’re claiming unemployment benefits. Going on a cross-country race is not congruent with someone who receives disability benefits. If you claim single status and you post pictures of your wedding or spouse, it’s suspicious to the AI algorithms.
The DWP tested the algorithms extensively and the algorithms can even scan across the benefit system including Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Personal Independent Systems making it even more robust.