Fraudsters could try to claim a grant for a bogus company they have already set up or create a new one. They could also impersonate a legitimate business and claim their funds.
The Government has pledged £30bn to help Britain’s economy through the pandemic. Small businesses and those in retail or hospitality are entitled to grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 depending on their size.
Only 15 of Britain’s 408 councils are currently undertaking security checks using Cifas’s fraud database before handing out these grants. “Of the 5,000 grant applications received by one council, one in ten was flagged as potentially having a link to fraud,” Mr Downing said.
Being flagged does not necessarily mean an applicant is guilty of fraud, however it does mean further investigation is needed, said Ashley Hart, head of fraud at TSB, a bank.
Experts have also raised concerns that people may exploit the pandemic to make fraudulent claims for furlough payments or the Government’s grants for the self-employed. Jim Harra, chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which is in charge of distributing these funds, has already said he expects the furlough scheme, which promises to pay employees up to 80pc of their salaries, to be targeted by fraudsters.
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