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Coronavirus: Man arrested over alleged £495,000 fraud of furlough scheme | UK News



A man in the West Midlands has become the first person to be arrested in connection with an alleged fraud of the government’s furlough scheme.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the 57-year-old from Solihull was detained on Wednesday in connection with allegations of a £495,000 fraud of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC said it was the first such arrest.

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Computers and other digital devices were seized by officers, while funds held in a bank account relating to the suspect’s business have been frozen.

HMRC said the man was also arrested in relation to a suspected multimillion-pound tax fraud and alleged money laundering offences.

A further eight men from across the region have also been detained in raids as part of this linked investigation.

More than 100 HMRC officers were deployed to 11 locations and computers, digital devices, as well as business and personal records were seized.

More than £27.4bn has been claimed through the scheme, supporting 1.1 million employers and 9.4 million furloughed jobs.

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Richard Las, acting director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said the vast majority of employers will have used the scheme “responsibly”, but added: “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 said.

“As usual, we have built steps in to prevent mistakes and fraud happening in the first place, but anyone who is concerned that their employer might be abusing the scheme should report it to HMRC online.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak makes a statement outlining policies aimed at UK's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

‘Furlough cannot continue indefinitely’

The furlough scheme currently pays businesses grants – covering up to 80% of any employee’s salary up to £2,500 a month – if they keep hold of staff during the lockdown.

The government is gradually reducing the support available through the scheme from next month before it ends in October.

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