Two Nigerians who exploited the UK Government’s Coronavirus Bounce Back loan scheme by using the identities of eight innocent people to fraudulently obtain £489,000 have been jailed.
Timilehin Yvette Olasemo, 39, appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, March 17, and was sentenced to three years and two months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. Olasemo pleaded guilty to the offence on 12 November, 2020.
Co-defendant, Olufumi David Akinneye, 33, was sentenced to a total of five years and six months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to money launder and conspiracy to commit fraud after pleading guilty to those offences on 12 November, 2020.
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 size of the loan available is determined by turnover demonstrated by the business to the satisfaction of the bank.
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.
Olasemo was identified from evidence seized during Akinneye’s arrest. Officers from Met’s North West Economic Crime Unit, part of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Central Specialist Crime Command, identified that £489,000 worth of fraudulent loan applications were made using ten identities.
Of this, £297,000 worth of loans were successfully obtained by the pair and dissipated. The remaining amount was successfully stopped by the banks.