Arrest made as police seize £115,000 in Bitcoin linked to coronavirus loan fraud

14 August 2020, 17:27

The Metropolitan Police seized £115,000 in fraudulently obtained Bitcoin
The Metropolitan Police seized £115,000 in fraudulently obtained Bitcoin. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Police have seized £115,000 of cryptocurrency believed to have come from fraudulent applications for bounce back loans designed to help small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A 35-year-old woman from Ipswich, Suffolk was arrested on suspicion of fraud, money laundering and child neglect and was later released under investigation after being interviewed.

It follows an investigation by detectives from the Met's proactive money laundering team, which was launched after officers suspected the woman was controlling a large sum of fraudulently obtained Bitcoin.

The Government's Bounce Back Loan scheme, which allows small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, launched in May.

The investigation focused on mule bank accounts – used to transfer criminal cash on behalf of others – being used to receive proceeds of fraudulent applications for ‘Bounce Back Loans’ – a scheme launched by the Government to assist small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government launched the 'Bounce Back' loan scheme in May
The Government launched the 'Bounce Back' loan scheme in May. Picture: PA Images

A search warrant was obtained on Wednesday morning and Met officers, assisted by officers from Suffolk Constabulary’s Proactive Crime Team, searched her home.

During the search, several children were found to be on their own and police began a search for the main resident.

The suspect was found close to the address shortly afterwards and arrested.

Detective Sergeant Ian Barrett, from the Met’s proactive money laundering team, said: “I would implore people to be careful about what personal and banking information they give out online or over the phone.

“If you feel your bank account is being used by others, promptly report it to your bank and Action Fraud.

“For people to take advantage of Government support available to those who really need it in these unprecedented times is appalling.

“I would like to assure the public that the Met remain committed to working with institutions in the regulated financial sector and law enforcement partners to tackle organised financial crime and bring these serious criminals to justice.”

The investigation is ongoing.