Fraudsters steal £25,000 coronavirus grant from Barnsley Council

Barnsley Council has reported a fraudulent claim for a coronavirus grant to the National Investigation Service.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 12:30 pm

The payment, worth £25,000, is thought to be related to high street chains and linked to organised crime.

A report by the anti-fraud team states the authority prevented five others attempts worth £110,000.

It adds: "Unfortunately [the council] has been the victim of one successful fraud (£25K).

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Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton CBE,

"The details have been forwarded to the National Investigation Service who is leading the investigation into cross-border, multiple authority COVID-19 business grant frauds."

The team also identified one ineligible small business rate grant of £10,000 which is to be recovered, and has already recovered one small business rate grant of £10,000.

Some 1,178 grants were paid to businesses in the borough. They were made available by the government after coronavirus lockdown measures were imposed in March which forced many to close.

More than 100 councils have provided details to the National Anti-Fraud Network identifying more than £8m in fraud.

They have also been approached by HMRC to share information about businesses suspected of "abusing" the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The report adds: "Intelligence suggests that some companies are abusing the recent HMRC Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

"Intelligence suggests that some applications for the relief are from establishments that are not included e.g. takeaways and that some restaurants are being impersonated in order to apply for reimbursement.

"Local authorities have been approached by HMRC to share information where this type of fraud is suspected.”

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