First Furlough Scheme Fraud Arrest Made This Week

West Midlands man arrested on suspicion of £495K job retention scheme fraud

A few weeks ago, BarLifeUK published an article about Job Retention Scheme fraud, in which we examined claims that some employers were illegally withholding furlough payments from their staff. In that article we predicted that HMRC would soon begin to investigate abuses of the scheme, and prosecutions would inevitably follow.

That process of investigation and enforcement would appear to be well underway, as HMRC have released details of the first arrest on July 8th of an individual in connection with furlough fraud: a 57 year old West Midlands man suspected of £495,000 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme fraud and money laundering. A further eight men from across the region were also arrested as part of the investigation, which involved the deployment of more than 100 HMRC officers.

Richard Las, Acting Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “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.”

Hospitality workers who believe their employer has withheld furlough payments can report their concerns on the HMRC website, and perhaps find some enjoyment in the fact that, if their employer is indeed guilty, their blood pressure will probably climb a few notches in the weeks ahead.