AI fraud detection tool upgraded; new £34m investment announced

The Government’s AI-powered fraud detection tool – the Single Network Analytics Platform (SNAP) – has been upgraded with thousands of new sanctions and debarment records to help it detect suspicious networks, activity and users that warrant further investigation for organised crime and sanctions evasion. 

Listen to 'AI fraud detection tool upgraded; new £34m investment announced'

The Government will run a number of AI discovery projects in 2024-25 to identify new ways to detect fraud. The first of these projects will use AI to identify entities registering and bankrupting successive companies to avoid paying debts. All of the AI discovery projects will be rigorously tested by the Public Sector Fraud Authority in accordance with the Government’s Generative AI Framework.

All this comes on top of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s decision to expand the Public Sector Fraud Authority by investing £34 million to build additional counter fraud tools with the government’s Incubator for Artificial Intelligence (i.AI). The investment announced in last week’s Budget is expected to save taxpayers £100 million over the next spending review.

Mark Cheeseman OBE, Chief Executive of the Public Sector Fraud Authority, said:Mark Cheeseman OBE Fraud Authority

‘We welcome the Chancellor’s investment in finding and preventing fraud using the latest techniques. This new funding will help us be innovative and detect more criminal activity more quickly, freeing up resources for public services.

The changes we’re making today break new ground. By adding sanctions data we’ll give the government a big picture view of the networks and entities evading sanctions and potentially defrauding taxpayers.

This information can then be used by the relevant bodies to review and take action.’

In the latest upgrade, three new datasets were added to SNAP:

  • 18,000 UK and US sanctioned entities, including those introduced following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine;
  • 1,000 World Bank debarments, that are deemed ineligible for World Bank contracts; and
  • 647,000 UK dormant companies that do not have any income.

With this new data, public sector organisations will be even better supported to detect fraudulent claims on public funds through contracts, grants and loans.  SNAP was launched by the Public Sector Fraud Authority in 2023 as part of its £4 million partnership with the UK based AI tech leader Quantexa. The tool will continue to be regularly updated with new datasets, each increasing the Government’s ability to detect fraud committed against the public sector. 

The Public Sector Fraud Authority will also publish the Government Counter Fraud Function Strategy 2024-27 today. The sector wide document sets five key objectives for more than 300 departments and public bodies across government: supporting and developing our people, harnessing data and technology more effectively, embedding prevention, driving a targeted response against fraudsters and securing cross-system cultural change. Each of the five objectives in the Strategy are supported by specific policy commitments, such as developing a common framework for counter fraud data sharing and further expanding cutting edge analytics tools, including SNAP.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office:

Baroness Neville Rolfe‘Adding sanctions and debarments data to our AI counter fraud tool will help us identify organised networks stealing from the public purse. And over the next year, we’ll be running new discovery projects to identify even more ways to use AI to detect fraud against the public sector. 

All this comes on top of the new funding announced in the Budget, which will see us invest £34 million to build the next generation of counter fraud technology, saving taxpayers an estimated £100 million over three years’

In January the Public Sector Fraud Authority revealed that £99.5 million of pandemic-era fraud had been identified through a data sharing pilot enabled using the Digital Economy Act 2017. This is one of more than 100 pilots which the Public Sector Fraud Authority has run with 70 local authorities and 17 government departments since 2018. The new strategy commits the government to launch further pilots in the years ahead.

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