HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has revealed that a 57-year-old man from Solihull in the West Midlands was arrested on 8 July on suspicion of a £495,000 furlough fraud relating to claims from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
HMRC says he is the first person to have been arrested in connection with fraudulent claims from the scheme.
As of 12 July, more than £28.7 billion had been claimed from the scheme by 1.2 million employers in respect of 9.4 million jobs.
HMRC says that the CJRS has four lines of defence against fraud, which it describes as:
- Employees have to have been on a payroll on or before 19 March – preventing the use of fake employees
- Claims are only accepted from employers known – and authenticated – by HMRC
- All claims are assessed by a specialist team within a 72-hour window
- Proportionate and reasonable interventions with customers after money has been paid.
Richard Las, the Acting Director at HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “The CJRS 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 taxpayers’ money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.”
He called on people to report suspected furlough fraud via HMRC’s online fraud reporting page here.