Displaying items by tag: fraud
The Cologne police force has set up a special team to combat a growing black market in forged vaccine certificates. Fraudsters are communicating via an encrypted messenger service which makes investigations difficult, and the police are still trying to determine the scale of the problem nationally. Some people are duped into paying about £86 then get nothing. Covid ‘passports’ to ease travel are being rolled out now across the EU. 44% of Germans have had at least one jab and over 18% of the population are fully vaccinated against Covid. The fraud takes place on the Telegram messenger service and involves both real traffic in fake certificates and fake offers which lure people into paying but provide nothing. Often cryptocurrency is used, like in the online black markets in drugs and weapons. Telegram has become a hub for anti-vaxxers, suspicious of vaccines and denying official data about the pandemic. Proving that you are Covid-free allows access to restaurants, leisure facilities, foreign travel, and more.
Fraud and error on the main Universal Credit (UC) benefit have reached record levels, according to new official figures. The department for work and pensions reported £8.4bn lost in 2020-21, almost entirely due to fraud and almost double the previous year. The number of people on UC has doubled to six million since the pandemic started. Officials said the increased fraud is a product of more people applying for the benefit, and the value of each fraudulent case rising, rather than a higher proportion of people engaging in fraud. It can be as simple as individuals claiming money to which they are not entitled, like not declaring income from other sources. More complex cases involve criminal gangs stealing people's details to apply for advance payments of UC. The money is paid to them, but the person whose identity has been stolen gets the bill.
Nearly half of world exports come from countries that fail to punish foreign bribery. That’s half of G20 countries and eight of the top 15 global exporters. Since 2018, fewer countries have been actively working against foreign bribery. One obstacle to enforcement is shell companies which cover up payments, making it difficult for authorities to trace the origin and destination of money. But even when countries actively enforce against foreign bribery, victims’ compensation is rare and most proceeds of corruption are never returned to countries or citizens. Citizens of countries where multinationals bribe public officials pay higher prices than they otherwise would for possibly lower-quality goods and services. Public money wasted on unnecessary contracts and deals deprives people of essential services like education and healthcare. The EU’s seven-year budget for Covid-19 recovery funds are at risk of abuse unless open, data-driven mechanisms to protect public contracts are put in place.
A BBC investigation found criminals setting up fake businesses on an industrial scale and successfully applying for government-backed Covid-19 emergency loans, with no intention of paying the money back. Builder Mark Telling had his details stolen to set up a bogus company which ‘borrowed’ £50,000 from the scheme. Mark, who had no idea the company had been set up in his name, was horrified when the BBC told him what had happened. Victims like him could find themselves liable for the debt and have their credit rating badly affected. Also the public has been warned to be on their guard against scammers taking advantage of the current coronavirus situation to extort money, or gain access to homes. Online shopping scams are the most widely reported method: see
Everyone has movement restrictions, and millions are working from home or have stopped working. As a response, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced huge packages of financial assistance in grants for the self-employed and paying wages for employed workers. Yet in announcing his help for self-employed, he acknowledges the scheme could facilitate opportunities for perpetrating fraud. He recognises that whatever the health of an economy - or the financial standing of an individual or a company - there will always be those looking to make fraudulent gains. Coronavirus has produced new openings for committing fraud, which is like a virus: it will spread and cause the maximum amount of harm unless the right precautions are taken.
We are all at risk from false information. For instance, a photo was circulated of a busy mosque supposedly in lockdown, but it was taken before lockdown. Another image showed trucks said to be carrying bodies of Covid-19 victims - but this was untrue, and the picture had been taken in Italy. We can pray that the waves of fear generated by similar scams are prevented by astute reporting and investigating. More serious than false news is fraudulent information and theft when members of the public are texted and told to share their bank card details in order to receive a supposed Covid-19 relief payment from the government. Similarly-worded emails have been sent from a website named ‘uk-covid-relieve.com.’ The true government’s website has a ‘gov.uk’ URL, not a ‘.com’. The authors of the email are thieves.