Byline: Sam Greenhill
A LIE detector test trapped nearly 4,000 benefit cheats in just four months.
The offenders were picking up council tax discounts worth [pounds sterling]1.4million by falsely claiming they lived alone.
But they were caught out by technology that analyses phone calls for signs of stress in the speaker's voice.
Southwark council in South London used the system to check on 53,000 households claiming the 25 per cent council tax discount.
It found that in approximately one in 13 cases, the discount was being wrongly claimed.
A council spokesman said: 'We are very pleased with the results. Between July and November, we have removed 3,851 people from the list of those claiming the discount.
'It has resulted in additional bills of [pounds sterling]1.4million of council tax which is payable.' The voice risk analysis system works by analysing the pitch of call-ers' voices when they are asked questions by council officials.
If the system suspects a lie is being told, a beep sounds in the operator's ear. Once alerted, the operator is trained to begin asking questions that may uncover the truth.
It can lead to a full investigation into claims for housing benefit, council tax, income support and jobseeker's allowance. Claimants are warned in advance that the phone call is being 'recorded and monitored for the detection of fraud'.
Anyone who refuses to take part in the call is likely to be visited in person for an assessment of their claim. It is not the first time lie detectors have been used by councils. Former work and …