Criminals have been caught with suitcases stuffed with cash provided by HM Treasury under the Government’s Covid loan scheme that has been repeatedly abused by fraudsters – with £50,000 gambled by one claimant, and another using part of £35,000 on garden improvements. MailOnline has more.
Border guards caught several people “carrying large amounts of money” believed to be from the Government’s Bounce Back loan scheme which was then seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Home Office said.
Other cases of abuse include a pub landlord who pocketed £29,000 in fake “consultancy fees”, a soft drinks company owner who inflated his turnover by 100 times to get the maximum loan, and a restaurant boss who was given a loan despite having been evicted from his premises for failing to pay rent.
As much as £17 billion out of the £47 billion officials paid out in Bounce Back loans will never be paid back, according to recent estimates, and of that about £4.9 billion is thought to have been lost to fraud.
Overall, “fraud and error” across all the Government’s Covid programmes, including the furlough scheme, is expected to have cost the taxpayer £15.7 billion. However, a fraud expert warned the figure is “just the tip of the iceberg” as more cases emerge. Those we know of already include:
• Steven Davison, 32, received a £35,000 loan but spent it on gambling debts and a garden renovation
• Ciaran Twomey, landlord, was granted £50,000 even though his pub company was no longer operating
• Adrian Cusiac, a builder from north London, spent £50,000 loan on poker and said “I’m not proud of myself”
• Unnamed wholesaler from Southsea claimed more than £20,000 through a shell firm he bought off the shelf
• Unnamed ex-fruit and veg trader claimed £28,000 and used it to pay himself £10,000 and buy a £2,400 watch.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: The scale of similar fraud in the United States is even greater. The Federal Government cannot say for sure how much of the more than $900 billion in pandemic-related unemployment relief has been stolen, but credible estimates range from $87 billion to $400 billion – at least half of which went to foreign criminals. NBC News has more.