It’s become a bit of a cliché, to say that the pandemic has brought the best and the worst out in people, but as with most clichés, it just so happens to be true.
You haven’t had to look far over the last few months, to find inspiring stories about community spirit or people going above and beyond. Whether it’s been people dressing up as superheroes to keep locked down children entertained, or children singing outside care homes to keep the residents smiling, there have been so many positive and uplifting stories.
Unfortunately though, there have also been countless examples of people taking advantage of the situation for their own good...
It all started with the over inflated prices on hand sanitiser, remember that? Those rogue shop owners were quickly exposed and they had to rethink their plans, whilst we’re still hearing of all manner of COVID related scams.
It should probably come as no surprise then, to hear that there are elements in society who have sought to take advantage of the furlough scheme.
Over 9 million people have been furloughed since the beginning of the scheme, and this has no doubt been a huge lifeline to so many businesses, not to mention the families it will have helped.
We said it from the start though, the scheme has always looked rife for opportunist to take the absolute p**s, and as usual, the opportunists have come through.
HMRC have set out plans to try and tackle so called ‘furlough fraud’, but this will be a difficult process.
There are some businesses who may have accidentally profited from the scheme, and HMRC recognise this, which is why they are proposing a 30-day window for businesses to declare their unnecessary claims or misspent grants.
A kind of furlough fraud amnesty, if you like.
The harshest penalties and the biggest fines will be saved for those who have openly taken advantage, and there are whistle blower complaints coming in on an all too frequent basis.
Stories of companies claiming furlough money, whilst still asking their employees to work.
That’s against the rules, and these employers know it.
Worse still, there are those who have claimed furlough money, but not disclosed this to the workforce at all, meaning they could have been profiting from the Government’s good will and the hard work of their oblivious employees.
If only this was unbelievable, it might be easier to deal with.
Sadly, this level of deceit and deception is anything but unbelievable, as there are always those who would look to create their own benefits from a crisis.
Insolvent company owners and directors who have committed furlough fraud wont be able to hide behind their bankruptcy either, as HMRC are planning on pursuing these individuals too.
Furlough fraud was always going to happen unfortunately, but HMRC will catch up with the biggest offenders.
It’s only a matter of time.
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