By Tara Rippin • 17 March 2021 • 17:57
Fraudsters who claimed £500k meant for Covid-hit businesses jailed.
TWO people who exploited the Government’s Coronavirus Bounce Back loan scheme by using the identities of eight innocent people to fraudulently obtain £489,000 (€570,350) have been jailed.
Timilehin Yvette Olasemo, 39, from Romford, appeared at Southwark Crown Court today, Wednesday, March 17, and was sentenced to three years and two months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Co-defendant, Olufumi David Akinneye, 33, from Lambeth, was sentenced to a total of five years and six months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to money launder and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Both fraudsters had previously pleaded guilty to the offences.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government created a scheme to support businesses struggling through the lack of economic activity.
The scheme was effectively a Government-backed loan organised and managed through UK banks.
The loan scheme was set up to try to process applications quickly, resulting in limited security checks being undertaken, said the Met Police in a statement.
The court heard how Olasemo exploited the weaknesses in the application system and realised that she, with assistance of others, could create fake businesses – using the identities of real people – to apply for the loans.
As the business account had been registered to a separate address to the personal account holder’s address, its existence would not become apparent to the real personal account holder until the bank chased them for the loan repayments.
Akinneye was the first out of the two to be identified during ongoing enquiries into organised criminality by officers of the Met’s North West London Economic Crime Unit. Olasemo was identified from evidence seized during Akinneye’s arrest.
Investigating officers discovered that £489,000 worth of fraudulent loan applications were made using 10 identities. Of this, £297,000 (€346,000) worth of loans were successfully obtained by the pair and dissipated.
The remaining amount was successfully stopped by the banks.
Detective Constable Chris Collins, of the Met’s North West Economic Crime Unit, said: “Today’s result serves as evidence of the zero-tolerance approach the MPS takes to individuals found guilty of fraud.
“We will continue to crackdown on individuals who are found to be exploiting government schemes for their own monetary gain.”
Akinneye was also convicted for his involvement in Romance Fraud.
Analysis of his phone revealed that he had set up a false persona – pretending to be a woman online to ensnare men – fabricating several stories in order to request money for flights, accommodation and a replacement passport.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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