Bounce Back Loan Fraud: What to Do if You’ve Been Accused
COVID-19 presented challenges for people across all aspects of their lives. For businesses facing financial strain, a number of support schemes were introduced during the height of the pandemic to provide a lifeline for many.
But these lifelines were in response to a rapidly changing and urgent situation, leading to rushed rollouts and a lack of key administrative elements to avoid future concerns. The bounce back loan scheme (BBILS) is no different, and whilst it kept thousands of businesses afloat, many are now facing investigation for bounce-back loan fraud.
If your business was able to benefit from the BBLS during the COVID-19 pandemic and you’re concerned about being investigated for whatever reason, DPP Law is here to help. Our team of fraud and financial crime experts has done the research to answer the questions you may have, including:
- What was the bounce back loan scheme?
- What is bounce back loan fraud?
- How is the HMRC investigating bounce back loan fraud?
- What are the implications for directors?
- What are the possible penalties for bounce back loan fraud?
- What should I do if I’ve been accused of bounce back loan fraud?
- How can DPP Law’s fraud solicitors help?
What was the bounce back loan scheme?
The bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) was one of the efforts made by the government to help support people through the pandemic. Launched on 4 May 2020, the purpose of the loan was to reduce the impact of the pandemic on businesses. Offering them up to £50,000, or 25% of their annual turnover if that was less than £200,000, the government’s aim was to relieve some financial strain and allow businesses to keep their doors open.
What is bounce back loan fraud?
The urgency of the pandemic led to BBLS being handed out at an incredibly quick rate at an enormous volume. This has led to an estimated £3.5bn to £5bn being lost to fraud as it’s believed many businesses took advantage of the looser rules in order to financially benefit.
However, the bounce-back loan investigation process is now resulting in thousands of investigation cases, ranging from small and medium-sized businesses to huge corporations. This is necessary to ensure any fraudulent claims of the business rescue efforts are resolved, but this also leads to many businesses facing an investigation when they have simply misunderstood the application, or have been swept up in the process.
How is the HMRC investigating bounce back loan fraud?
To try and tackle these potential instances of bounce back loan fraud, a number of authorities across the UK have begun to work together to find and secure the financial contributions that were fraudulently taken.
These authorities include HMRC, the National Crime Agency, the National Investigation Service, and any banks involved.
Investigating these potential bounce back loan fraud cases includes assessing loan applications and any business interruption that resulted in those taking advantage of the support scheme. Other key areas that these authorities will be assessing include:
- Evidence that the business deliberately abused the bounce back loan scheme
- Searched for and provided insight into how to abuse the bounce back loan scheme
- Falsely declared their eligibility for a certain amount of money
- Opened bogus businesses to claim money from the bounce back loan scheme
If a person is found to be guilty, they may face criminal prosecution and face charges of fraud by false representation, false accounting, and conspiracy to defraud.
What are the implications for directors?
Any kind of civil investigation into a business that potentially may have committed bounce back loan fraud can lead to a financial penalty, and the implication for directors of companies includes additional action being taken against them.
For a director, there are potential repercussions that are entirely personal to them. This is usually the case for those who acted in a fraudulent manner or incorrectly dissolved a company with an outstanding bounce-back loan.
If this is the case, a director could be accused of unfit conduct and be disqualified from their role for two to 15 years, or face a compensation order.
What are the possible penalties for bounce back loan fraud?
If a person is found guilty of bounce back loan fraud following a bounce-back loan investigation, they may face one or more of the following penalties:
- A fines
- A custodial sentence
- A civil recovery order
- Enforced compensation
- A serious crime prevention order
What should I do if I’ve been accused of bounce back loan fraud?
If you have been accused of bounce back loan fraud it is essential you are receiving advice and legal support from a professional who has expertise in handling fraud cases. This is especially the case as many banks involved in the bounce-back loan scheme have hired many new employees to assist them in the retrieval of any cash they have lost from fraudulent behaviour with the bounce-back scheme.
This is leading to more and more businesses facing a potential accusation as they are put through the bounce back loan fraud investigation. As soon as you find out that this is the case, get in touch with DPP Law, we will help you to make sense of the problem and find out which path you should take to secure the best outcome depending on your situation.
How Can DPP Law’s Fraud Solicitors Help?
There’s no reason to panic if your business is suspected of bounce back loan fraud if you have DPP Law’s expert team of professionals at your disposal. The first important step is to ensure that you have our solicitors’ advice to hand to be able to correctly manage the situation.
At DPP Law we specialise in fraud cases, knowing the system inside and out, and being able to guide you through the process to ensure you get a fair and favourable result of any investigation.
Get in touch today to find out more about how we can support you and your business and have a confidential discussion with a member of our friendly team.
As well as COVID-19 Fraud and Serious Fraud, DPP Law can also offer advice on: