Four people arrested over alleged £500,000 Covid Bounce Back Loan fraud

1 March 2021, 16:38

Four people were arrested as part of the investigation in Croydon on Wednesday
Four people were arrested as part of the investigation in Croydon on Wednesday. Picture: NATIS

By Megan White

Four people have been arrested as part of an investigation into alleged cases of Covid Bounce Back Loan fraud totalling £500,000.

Three men, aged 82, 52 and 30, and a 70-year-old woman, were arrested at various locations in the Croydon area of south London on February 24.

Officers executed search warrants at several address with evidence being seized as part of a joint National Investigation Service (NATIS) and National Crime Agency (NCA) enquiry, including a large quantity of cash found at one of the addresses.

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HMRC were also contacted as significant amounts of what is suspected to be illegally imported tobacco were also found.

The fraud involved the use of false information and documents to obtain Bounce Back Loans from a number of financial institutions, through a network of unrelated businesses.

The suspects have been released under investigation, following property searches and interviews, whilst inquiries continue.

From £2,000 up to £50,000 in one-off loans have been provided to small and medium sized businesses to help them stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the government providing a guarantee to lenders for the loans.

Michael Dineen, Deputy Director Operations at the NATIS said: “People who have fraudulently claimed these loans are attacking the UK’s financial security during a pandemic, which is predatory and criminal.

"Across the country NATIS and its partners are working hard to investigate and prosecute those involved in this type of fraud.”

Gary Cathcart, Head of Financial Investigation at the NCA said: “Ensuring the integrity of the financial sector is a vital part of our work to tackle illicit finance.

"Criminal exploitation of the Bounce Back Loan scheme remains a priority for the NCA, be that by individuals looking to secure illicit loans for themselves or professional enablers who use their specialist knowledge to facilitate fraudulent applications for others.

"The NCA is working closely with our partners in NATIS and wider law enforcement to target those involved in this fraud.”