HM Revenues and Customs has received almost 14,000 whistleblower reports after launching an online tip off service to make it easier to report instances of furlough fraud.
Thousands of people have blown the whistle on their employers and former-employers by reporting them for furlough fraud using HMRC’s digital reporting tool, analysis from law firm Pinsent Masons shows.
The launch of HMRC’s digital reporting service comes as part of the UK government’s wider efforts to recover billions taken by criminals via fraudulent Covid financial support claims.
In one case, an Indian fraudster claimed £27.4m in furlough payments over a 14-month period, after registering four fake companies and claiming furlough for more than 2,700 non-existent employees.
In seeking to prompt more whistleblower reports, HMRC has pursued efforts to make it easier for potential whistleblowers to act, by publishing information as to whether companies claimed furlough payments online.
In making the information publicly available, HMRC is seeking to make it easier for potential whistleblowers to uncover instances in which their employer had claimed furlough payments whilst at the same time forcing their employees to work.
Andrew Sackey, a partner at Pinsent Masons, said: “Whistleblowers have played a major role in helping HMRC catch those who defrauded the furlough scheme or were otherwise not entitled to the benefits claims.”
“Significant numbers of employees who found themselves unwittingly playing a part in a breach of the rules or even fraud will have reported them in response.”