Car dealers and other small businesses are being warned of a series of scams relating to the government grant scheme.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, has revealed a total of £3.5m has been lost by 1,713 victims in coronavirus-related scams already.
The latest fraud is targeting businesses who may have missed out on the first government grant scheme for small businesses, which saw businesses receive between £10,000 and £25,000.
Councils have warned phishing emails are being sent out to businesses which tells them they have been awarded the government grant and to ‘start their application’.
These are then used to scam businesses into handing over cash. Councils say that business owners should call their local authorities to discuss the grants if they have any suspicions about emails.
❌ FAKE GOVERNMENT GRANT SCAM ❌
Criminals continue to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud people. We've heard reports of a suspicious email requesting re-submission of application details in order to receive the COVID-19 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant. pic.twitter.com/QH0DbaDDxM
— Gosport Borough Council (@GosportCouncil) May 15, 2020
The scam warning comes as small businesses that missed out on the first round of £10,000 grants could now get their cash in June.
The Small Business Grant Fund – which saw businesses get grants of between £10,000-£25,000 from the government – was recently extended to include those businesses that fell between the cracks with the first round of funding.
Local authorities have now been given the guidance they have been waiting for from the Department for Business, Energy, Innovation & Skills (BEIS) on how to distribute the much-needed cash.
Local councils had been waiting to receive details of how they should distribute the funds to those businesses who missed out before handing it out.
The guidance puts the onus on the council to distribute the funds fairly with businesses having to prove that the crisis has caused them to experience a downturn in business.
Originally, to benefit from the scheme firms had to be on the rates list at their local council to get the money which meant businesses that paid rates via their landlords on a shared site or office block, market traders and B&Bs missed out.
The extension to the original scheme has seen the government add a further £617m to the fund to help those businesses that missed out.
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