The government will up its game by using data analytics to detect training claims fraud

The government will up its game by using data analytics to detect training claims fraud

Mothership.SG·2018-01-09 04:35

The government will get smarter in its efforts to detect suspicious criminal activity in future SkillsFuture claims.

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) will build a better and more sophisticated training claims fraud detection system through the appropriate use of data analytics.

Data driven approach

This was one of the key messages by Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung when he 

As , it was perhaps quite apt that he made the pledge to up the government’s game against fraudsters who are constantly finding ways to stay ahead.

Ong added that SSG will also seek assistance from GovTech and private sector consultants.

They will draw on data from across government agencies for a “good and effective” data analytics system to detect future suspicious claims.

“Specifically, I have directed SSG to strengthen its fraud detection system through data analytics. Fraudsters, who are going all out to cheat, are getting more sophisticated, and their plans more elaborate…we can better detect false claims, without significantly affecting genuine employers applying for training grants.”

Largest case of a defrauding of a public institution

On Dec. 19, revealing that suspected members of a criminal syndicate had submitted fraudulent claims for training grants.

The suspects allegedly operated a network of nine business entities to cheat SSG out of nearly S$40 million, making it the largest case of defrauding a public institution.

Police have seized cash and frozen bank accounts linked to the case, and investigations are ongoing.

Syndicate stored S$6.7 million & 11kg of gold in Rivervale Crescent safe deposit box: SkillsFuture fraud

New task force

Ong also said this about the large-scale fraud uncovered:

“This should not have been allowed to happen. While we cannot always prevent all forms of fraudulent activities, SSG should have detected this case much earlier, especially when it was so egregious, and the amounts involved were so large.”

Ong stated that an inter-agency task force has been formed to review the current system and make recommendations for improvements. This task force includes SSG, the Accountant-General’s Department, the Commercial Affairs Department, and the Ministry of Education.

Ong clarified that this particular case did not involve SkillsFuture Credit or new SkillsFuture programmes.

Instead, the fraudulent claims were drawn from an older grant known as the Skills Development Fund (SDF). The SDF was established in 1979 to support worker training and workforce upgrade programmes.

Change to SkillsFuture credit claim

Ong also addressed the separate case of false claims submitted for SkillsFuture credits. More than 4,400 individuals were found to have made over S$2 million worth of claims in 2017.

Over 90 per cent of those individuals have either paid back the money or made arrangements for instalment payments. Those who don’t respond will be blacklisted for all future SkillsFuture grants until they pay up, and further legal action may be taken against them.

Ong added that SSG has reviewed the claims process and tweaked it. Now, individuals will no longer be directly reimbursed by SSG. Instead, payments will be made to the training providers who will then reduce their course fees accordingly.

Top image from Pixabay.

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