Furlough Fraud on the radar from HMRC

BBC News

Furlough fraud has proved a significant issue within recent weeks and months, with many companies knowingly dodging the law for their own benefit.

However, a new warning has been issued to companies who may be unwittingly breaking the law, which could have grave consequences.

An HMRC spokesperson said:

“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is part of the collective national effort to protect jobs. This is taxpayer’s money and fraudulent claims limit our ability to support people and deprive public services of essential funding.

“We’d ask anyone concerned their employer might be abusing the scheme to please contact us. It could be that you’re not being paid what you’re entitled to, they might be asking you to work while you’re on furlough, or they may have claimed for times when you were working.

“Reports can be submitted to us entirely anonymously and everything we receive is assessed and a decision made on the most appropriate course of action. We’re not trying to catch people out – if it turns out to be a genuine mistake then we’ll help put it right, and if it’s more serious then we’ll step in.

“These reports are just one way that HMRC identifies fraud. Claims are checked and payments may be withheld or need to be repaid if the claim is based on dishonest or inaccurate information. We won’t hesitate to take criminal action against the most serious cases.”

Background

We have received 5,640 reports of potential fraud related to the Job Retention Scheme as of Wednesday 8 July.

Last week we issued a news release after arrests were made in the West Midlands as part of an HMRC investigation into a suspected £495,000 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) fraud:

https://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/hm-revenue-customs-hmrc/pressreleases/west-midlands-man-arrested-on-suspicion-of-495000-pounds-furlough-fraud-3020956

Information can be reported via our online digital reporting service which is available here (for reporting abuse of the Job Retention Scheme people should click the “Report HMRC-administered coronavirus (COVID-19) relief scheme fraud” link on the page)

We have temporarily stopped taking reports of potential fraud on the phone. The decision to temporarily stop the dedicated phoneline was taken to comply with Government coronavirus guidance. Reports can still be submitted online, which is where we receive the vast majority of our reports. In 2019/20, three quarters of fraud reports were submitted online.

HMRC treats its duty of care to those who report fraud to us as a priority and we have a number of mechanisms set in place to ensure the safety of those individuals:

  • Completion of the online form (and under normal circumstances contacts made to our fraud reporting telephony service) is entirely anonymous unless the individual reporting wishes to provide contact details for further contact.
  • All information sent to our fraud teams is sanitised before sharing with compliance/criminal intervention teams to remove any reference to a human source.
  • HMRC operate a policy of “Neither Confirming Nor Denying” the existence of a human source in any of our activities

 

You can make reports anonymously to HMRC here