Police have been working hard over the past year to tackle those who they feel exploited the Bounce Back Loan Scheme that had been put into place in March 2020.
A BBC report had looked at one example of a man who falsely claimed that he was a landscape gardener in order to obtain £50,000 of Bounce Back Loan money – the maximum amount that could have been borrowed. This is one of many, many business owners who fell foul of not following the rules that had been put into place for the Covid support schemes.
Phil Butt, Investigations Manager at The National Investigations Service (NATIS), said: “The scale of the problem is extremely large at the moment, we’re operating across the country. We have numerous operations planned and my message to those that are committing this crime is that we will be investigating you.”
NATIS is cracking down on this new kind of fraud, chasing people who are deemed to have illegally taken taxpayer’s money from one of the Covid-support schemes.
Loans taken out by fraudsters look set to cost the taxpayer billions because fraudsters have no intention of paying the loan back.
Many people were unwittingly walked down the path of fraud by people who told them it was okay to bend the rules.
An anonymous recording between a shady influencer and a business owner was very revealing. This influencer told the business owner: “To get the maximum £50,000 loan, you’d have to put in a £250,000 turnover. Just put that down. They don’t ask you for proof or anything like that.”
Another man claimed that he had sold “700 companies” to vulnerable business owners, adding that the majority of them then took it upon themselves to acquire a Bounce Back Loan because they thought it was easy to do.
Police are looking at two types of fraudsters: those who acquired a loan without following the rules and those who advised others to not follow the rules that were put into place.
Did I commit fraud when I got my Bounce Back Loan? (BBL)
There are two different levels of fraud: soft fraud and hard fraud.
Soft fraud is overestimating figures in order to gain access to a larger loan. Exaggerations will be based on fairly legitimate evidence. Many people will fall into this category and they will need advice on how to best deal with this situation.
If you think you are going to be accused of BBL fraud then you should immediately seek legal help. You may have accidentally overestimated figures or unintentionally mislead those offering the BBLS, so it’s important to make sure that you will be fully prepared for any negative outcome.
We can help you to understand the makeup of your situation and we can work out the best solution for your problem.
It is clear that many people may have committed Bounce Back Loan fraud without realising it. Others might have accidentally misused another form of Covid financial support. What is important to remember is that you are not alone in this situation. The authorities are clamping down hard on suspected fraud and you could be feeling very scared. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this situation; we have your back.
What should I do next?
The sooner you act, the better your chances of finding a solution to your problem. Here at Business Helpline, we can help to work out the best way forward for you and your business. We can help you to put your house in order, looking at the situation of your business and your finances, before deciding exactly which way to go next.
Our experienced and knowledgeable advisers have a full understanding of the current business support options available to directors; they can advise you on the best route to take going forward.
The sooner you act, the better chance you have of finding a solution to your problems. Help us to help you. Get in touch today!