The results of a fraud detection scheme involving Scotland's public bodies have been valued at almost £20m for 2010/11.
An Audit Scotland report revealed that the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) in Scotland achieved £19.8 million worth of recoveries, savings and overpayments.
Councils, police forces, fire and rescue services, health boards, the Scottish Public Pensions Agency and the Student Award Agency for Scotland were among 81 organisations which took part.
The scheme compared data on deceased persons, public-sector employees and pensioners, benefit applicants, council tax records, failed asylum-seekers, disabled parking permits, expired visas, personal alcohol licences and students to identify inconsistencies that might suggest fraud or error.
Cases were then followed up to stop overpayments and to recover money where possible.
The largest individual case of fraud, involving benefit claims, is estimated at almost £600,000 and is one of 145 cases to be reported to the procurator fiscal.
Robert Black, auditor general for Scotland, said: "Most people are honest and behave with integrity. Some do make genuine mistakes but there is a small number who set out to cheat the public sector. Our successful National Fraud Initiative should be a deterrent. This is the fourth time the initiative has been carried out in Scotland.
“It has had results worth almost £20 million of public money and the cumulative results of the NFI for Scotland since it was first introduced are now at £78 million."
The 2010/11 NFI has also resulted in the recovery of 1,681 overpayments, 318 housing benefit frauds being stopped, the prosecution of 45 cases of alleged fraud and public bodies identifying 184 pensioners whose deaths had not been reported to them and stopping those pension payments.
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