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14 October 2008
The DWP have launched a new Costa hotline and a new online form to try to encourage people to accuse claimants in the UK and abroad of fraud.

Photofit fraudster

However, the online form is so complex and requires such a detailed description that even a fraudsters own mother might struggle to complete it.

The Costa hotline will allow expats living in Alicante to phone a local number to report people they suspect of fraud. Details will then be passed to investigators in the UK. According to Benefit Fraud minister James Plaskitt:

‘Helped by this hotline, the sun will now set on the cheats.’

Meanwhile, the DWP have also set up an online system for reporting benefit fraud. However, the form is so complex and detailed that it has been compared to a DLA claim pack. It contains over 70 text boxes and drop down menus for users to complete and this rises to over 100 where the claimant has a partner.

Details users are asked to complete include the alleged fraudsters:
National insurance number
Date of birth
Phone number
The benefits they are claiming
Employers name and address
How much they earn
What days they work
Whether their employer knows they are committing fraud
The make, model and registration number of their car

It is in relation to creating a description of the alleged fraudster that the DWP have really let their imaginations have free rein however. There are a series of 8 drop down lists and three text boxes to use to create a photofit picture of the claimant.

Hair colours to choose from include:
Multi-coloured
Orange
Pink
Purple
Red

Whilst hair types include:
Bouffant
Dirty
Dreadlocks
Permed
Quiffed
Spiky
Spiked
Wig

Users are also asked to list any tattoos, scars and piercings and the type of clothes and jewellery worn by the claimant and, bizarrely, whether they use contact lenses.