In what is likely to be the tip of a significant ice-berg, two companies who fraudulently applied for thousands of pounds in grants and loans have been wound up in the courts.
According to a recent government press release the two separate companies submitted false documents to at least 41 local authorities and the Government’s Bounce Back Loan scheme to secure £230,000 worth of grants; grants that were offered to support businesses across the UK during the pandemic.
The Insolvency Service proved that neither company ever traded.
Investigators uncovered that one company had registered their offices in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but had provided false lease documents and utility bills to 14 different local authorities to fraudulently claim they traded out of premises in their respective areas.
The companies fraudulently secured business grants from local authorities, as well as Bounce Back Loans. Investigators uncovered that the premises that the companies falsely claimed to operate from were either unoccupied, up for rent or occupied by a different company.
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said:
“This decisive enforcement action shows that we will not tolerate shameless attempts to defraud the taxpayer and falsely claim public money intended to help businesses through the pandemic.
“We are cracking down on Covid fraud across the board and those who have tried to take support they were not entitled to, which was given in response to the worst crisis of our lifetimes, can expect to face heavy consequences.
“The lengths that fraudsters went to as they tried to falsely claim grants surprised even our most experienced staff, but by using national counter fraud networks, concerns could be raised quickly and trends and patterns were shared with other authorities.
“We are very proud of the way our teams supported so many businesses in extraordinary circumstances, and we are also pleased that they foiled attempts by a small minority to exploit the misery that Covid-19 has brought to so many.”