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Man arrested as HMRC investigates £495,000 furlough fraud

10 July 2020
HMRC officer

In the West Midlands a man has been arrested for fraudulently claiming nearly half a million pounds from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme set up to pay furloughed staff during the coronavirus lockdown.

The government has tried to make it easy to access its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) support for furloughed staff during the coronavirus pandemic, so, inevitably, thieves have moved in. 

On 8 July a 57-year-old man in Solihull, West Midlands, was arrested following the execution of a search warrant by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers. Further arrests might follow. £495,000 are believed to have been obtained fraudulently from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Computers and other digital devices were seized in the raid and funds held in a bank account relating to the business have been frozen.

Richard Las, Acting Director of the Fraud Investigation Service of HMRC, says: "The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is part of the collective national effort to protect jobs. The vast majority of employers will have used the CJRS responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme.

“This is taxpayer’s money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.

“As usual, we have built steps in to prevent mistakes and fraud happening in the first place, but anyone who is concerned that their employer might be abusing the scheme should report it to HMRC online." Click here if you feel you have something to report.

More than £27.4billion has been claimed through the Job Retention Scheme by 1.1million employers. It has maintained 80% of income for 9.4million people unable to work because of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

The 57-year-old West Midlands man, who is not being identified, was also arrested in relation to a suspected multi-million pound tax fraud, including VAT, and alleged money laundering offences.

A further eight men from across the West Midlands have also been arrested as part of this linked investigation. More than 100 HMRC officers went to 11 locations to make the arrests. They seized more computers and mobile phones, plus business and personal records.

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