Just as the government’s original Job Retention Scheme is brought back, HMRC are ramping up their efforts to curb furlough fraud.
There’s been widespread fraud involving claims for government aid linked to local and national lockdowns. HMRC is now employing covert tactics to identify businesses not following the rules.
HMRC are making calls to businesses which have claimed financial support and should not be operating during lockdown. The caller might, for example, pose as a new customer wanting to purchase your services, where it would involve you or one of your employee’s attendance in breach of the rules. If you respond by saying that you can’t help them until after the lockdown, you’ll receive a follow-up call explaining that the earlier one was just part of an HMRC check.
HMRC are also asking to speak to particular employees who are recorded as on furlough leave in a bid to catch fraudsters red handed. This is particularly relevant for sole director companies.
Will there be further action?
HMRC’s approach depends on the nature of your business.
Your response could trigger further HMRC investigations, so when handling phone enquiries your answers need to be clear.
Naturally, only businesses breaking the rules should be concerned. Receiving an undercover call may be inconvenient but at least you can be encouraged that HMRC is taking steps to identify those involved in dodgy claims or breaking the lockdown rules.