A vast array of support schemes have been introduced to help individuals and businesses struggling financially during these uncertain times. Unfortunately, individuals have been abusing the schemes causing an increase in fraudulent activity such as cybersecurity scams where fraudsters and hackers take advantage of the pandemic. This has resulted in a new Covid Fraud Hotline being set up between the Government and Crimestoppers. This has cost the government £100,000 to set up and run.
The cause for concern regarding recent fraud cases is the abuse of the Government’s Bounce Back loan scheme, set up to help struggling businesses during Covid-19. Fraudsters and cybercriminals are posing as or gaining credentials from owners of businesses and then applying and receiving the loans of up to £50,000 in their name. In most cases, the loans were the last chance for these businesses to stay afloat in these difficult times. A recent national audit of the expected value of potential losses due to fraud is between £15bn and £26bn.
To help minimise the chance of being caught out by these fraudsters, you should be on the lookout for the following:
- Suspicious buying activity by your company or your payment method
- Cold calls from people falsely claiming they are from the government. In these calls, they are likely to ask you for the details that you would need to get the loan
The Covid Fraud Hotline is open 24/7, 365 days a year and can be reached on the following number 0800 587 5030. Alternatively, there is a simple, secure, and anonymous form you can fill in at Covidfraudhotline.org.