Counter fraud for environmental and social programmes
About counter fraud
Ofgem’s counter fraud team works to detect, prevent, deter and take firm action where there is evidence of fraud across the environmental or social programmes we administer on behalf of the government. We work to ensure government funds are used properly and to maintain the integrity of these schemes.
We can carry out investigations into the activities of individuals or businesses we believe may have acted dishonestly and committed fraud on these schemes.
There are serious consequences – fraud is a crime punishable with imprisonment. There can also be serious legal and reputational costs for the perpetrator(s).
What do we do?
To detect fraud, we proactively monitor risks and trends and use data analytics, allowing us to target high-risk areas, and to detect emerging areas of concern as early as possible. We supplement this with a rigorous sampling approach via our audit work to help catch wrongdoing at an early stage.
We have also been making evidence checking processes tighter and more rigorous than ever and our teams are vigilant in detecting and escalating instances of suspected fraud.
We also investigate information from whistle blowers and appreciate each tip we receive.
We consider all suspected fraud allegations which fall within our remit. Where there is evidence of fraud, we may carry out an investigation. An investigation can lead to court proceedings, enforcement and/or imprisonment. We intend to increasingly publish details about the perpetrator(s).
Read our blog to hear about some recent successes.
We do not investigate individual consumer disputes or complaints against energy companies. For these matters you should refer to our Consumer Affairs page which includes a step-by-step guide on how to make a complaint to your supplier. For further help and support you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau either by calling them on 03454 040506 or by visiting their website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
What does fraud look like?
Fraud is where a person acts dishonestly to make a gain or cause a loss to somebody else. Examples could include:
- intentionally not reporting a change in your circumstances as a scheme participant
- being dishonest to get scheme payments
- misrepresentation in the supply chain to maximise government funding
Fraud is different to ‘non-compliance’. Non-compliance is where someone does not stick to the scheme rules but is not necessarily acting dishonestly.
Dishonesty is the central element of fraud - where someone has made a genuine mistake, there is no fraud (though there may still be non-compliance).
What happens if we detect fraud?
- refer cases to the police through Action Fraud, Police Scotland and/or Police Service of Northern Ireland to consider prosecution if there is adequate, corroborated evidence
- refer cases to the relevant EPC Accreditation Bodies to take action when we suspect an EPC has been falsified
- If we have concerns about a MCS accredited installer, we will report them to MCS to investigate them further take steps to remove participants from a scheme
- recover any payments made and we vigorously pursue overpayments and may refer debt to our third-party debt collector
- withhold full or partial elements of payments
- reject an application from the scheme and can prevent them from reapplying If relevant we will also make reports to the relevant Consumer Code hold obligated energy suppliers to account by rejecting measures and/or taking enforcement action where appropriate
What to do if you suspect fraud
Everyone plays a vital role in the fight against fraud and often the help from the public and industry insiders is important in enabling us to tackle the fraud and abuse by determined criminals.
If you have concerns about suspected fraud within an environmental or social programme, please report it to us:
- email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or
- call us on 0207 901 7373 where you will be invited to leave a voice message. If we require further information toit consider your concern, we will call you back. We will be unable to take action unless your concern relates to the environmental or social programmes we administer
What information should I provide?
When contacting us please provide us with as much information as possible including the following:
- a description of the fraud that is taking place, including any individuals or companies involved
- any addresses/postcodes/geographical areas you think may be affected by this type of fraud
- your contact details (if you are happy to be contacted by us)
- whether you have reported this to anyone else (e.g., Trading Standards)
- any other relevant information
If you have concerns about wrongdoing where you work, and you work within the energy sector or are involved in the delivery of one of our environmental or social programmes, please contact our whistleblowing team by:
- emailing us at email@example.com, or
- calling us on 0207 901 7121
Sometimes it’s only through whistleblowing that this information comes to light and can be investigated. We encourage you to give us information in writing, even if initial contact is made with the Whistleblowing Team by phone.