Fraudsters Steal £5 Billion By Exploiting Lockdown Loan Scheme

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), fraudsters heavily exploited the Covid Bounce Back Loan scheme, implemented by the Government to help small and medium-sized businesses survive the impact of lockdown restrictions. The project cost roughly £47 billion, with fraudsters pocketing £4.9 billion, or 11% of the total figure. RT has the story.

Established during the pandemic, the scheme offered loans of up to £50,000 to small and medium-sized businesses to help them cope with and recover from the pandemic. Having now closed, it handed out 1.5 million loans to a quarter of U.K. businesses, totalling around £47 billion.

An investigation by the NAO has discovered that “high levels of estimated fraud” was carried out by criminals after anti-fraud measures were “implemented too slowly“.

Out of the loans handed out, 11% have been deemed to be fraudulent, as of March, costing the U.K. Government nearly £4.9 billion.

“The true level of fraud will become clearer over time,” Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, stated, adding “it is clear Government needs to improve on its identification, quantification and recovery of fraudulent loans within the scheme“.

The NAO’s assessment warns the U.K. Government that more than a third of the loans, valued at £17 billion, might never be repaid due to both a combination of criminals fraudulently claiming money and businesses defaulting on their debt.

Worth reading in full.

NHS Vaccine Passports Being Sold to Unvaccinated Brits for up to £750

Amid threats of unvaccinated Brits being barred from certain jobs and events, genuine NHS vaccine passports are being sold to those who have chosen not to get ‘jabbed’ on the messaging app Telegram. The Mail on Sunday has the story.

The certificates – which are uploaded on to the NHS’s mobile phone app – should only be available to those who have been fully inoculated.

They can be used for foreign travel and to gain access to nightclubs, stadiums and other venues for big events. They will also be used to ensure that care home staff have been fully vaccinated when it becomes mandatory next month.

But [the Mail on Sunday’s] investigation exposes the fraudsters who are selling genuine passes for up to £750 each on the messaging app Telegram to people who won’t have the jab.

An undercover reporter bought an NHS vaccine pass, including a unique digital QR code, on behalf of someone who has not yet been vaccinated. It was uploaded on to the official NHS app four days after the order was taken.

After verifying the pass was genuine, the QR code was used to gain access to a nightclub in London and the Louvre Museum in Paris. It was also used to successfully fill in the Government’s passenger locator form, which is intended to protect Britain’s borders by ensuring that those entering the U.K. have been double-jabbed.

After being alerted by the MoS, NHS England said it had launched an investigation and had passed our dossier of evidence to the relevant authorities. …

The illicit trade also throws into doubt strict new rules in Scotland and Wales. Since Friday people in Scotland have had to prove they are doubled-jabbed before entering certain venues and events. Proof of vaccination, or a negative Covid test, will be mandatory for some venues in Wales from October 11th.

Worth reading in full.

Will British Travellers to France Pose as Lorry Drivers to Avoid PCR Test Bill?

A reader has drawn attention to the likelihood of some people posing as lorry drivers to avoid paying hefty PCR test fees.

According to the Government’s website, lorry drivers and hauliers can now get tested while on the road.

This means that they can travel from services to services between drops and get tested according to the following rules.

When to get tested

You will need to take at least three tests, if you will be staying in England for 10 days or longer.

You must take the first test within two days of your arrival. The day of your arrival is counted as day zero.

You must take the second test three days after your first test and the third test three days after your second test.

So if your first test is on day one, your second test will be on day four and your third test on day seven.

If your first test is on day two, your second test will be day five and your third test on day eight.

Apparently, these tests are free.

I wonder what will happen if they put France on the “red list”, as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden seems to be considering… I suspect if you are a haulier you will still be able to come in from France – otherwise, where will all the food come from?

As has been seen from a previous LS post where the author set up a “removals” company and went skiing, one thinks this could be open to abuse.

I live five minutes away from the 24 hours South Mimms testing centre – I do wonder what is to stop me from getting free tests. Also, I wonder if van rentals will start popping up as members of the public suddenly become hauliers to find a reasonable excuse to go abroad!

Stop Press: In England, Lloyds Pharmacy is cutting costs for PCR tests to the bone by undercutting Boots by (wait for it!) £1! Its now only £119 per test with them, which means the cost of the PCR tests you’ll need to go on a trip to France has been slashed from £360 to £357. Bon voyage!