Today in a joint operation together with the Yorkshire & Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit , NATIS searched five locations and arrested four individuals as part of a national operation investigating scams linked to COVID 19 payments. The suspects were arrested as part of a national operation investigating frauds committed against over 100 local authorities administering Covid business grants. Suspects are believed to have taken the identity of high street chains to be paid business support grants and fraudulently obtained £1.8m.
Their modus operandi involved the recruitment of ‘money mules’, falsified bank statements, to secure fraudulent grant payments and the use of fictitious companies to claim over £500,000 of Bounce Back Loans.
The Government’s Covid-19 debt guarantee schemes provided a lifeline to almost 1.7 million businesses across the UK, delivering £78 billion of finance in total, and are estimated to have saved up to 500,000 businesses and up to 3m jobs according to an initial evaluation. The National Investigation Service, NATIS, has opened 273 investigations into Bounce Back Loan fraud, with a total value of £160 million. 78 suspects have been dealt with, with 49 arrests made.
Natis Senior Investigations Manager Phil BUTT said
"Today's activity highlights NATIS commitment to pursue criminals who have committed fraud against the governments covid loan and grants schemes.
"NATIS focus on the investigation of Public Sector Fraud, and work in collaboration with Government Departments and Agencies together with Nationwide Law Enforcement to pursue those who seek to defraud the public."
8th August 2023