It has been revealed that over 90,000 telephone calls were made to the fraud service set up by HMRC during the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis, with many of these believed to be accusations of furlough frauds.
An investigation by PfP, a tax insurance company, found that a significant number of the phone calls to this hotline in the period from April to December of last year related to suspected fraudulent claims of furlough money. That nine-month period saw an average of 10,000 telephone calls being made to the fraud hotline each month, compared with 9,000 a month during the same period in 2019.
PfP is also stating that accusations of fraudulent use by restaurants of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme introduced by the government may account for a percentage of the calls that were made in that period.
The company is indicating that it expects HMRC to put considerable resources into investigating the allegations, but also that a lot of them will turn out to be untrue. This could leave accused small firms enduring months of suspicion when they have done nothing wrong.
Speaking to Accountancy Daily, Kevin Igoe, PfP’s Managing Director, said:
“Months of lockdown restrictions have already put many businesses under huge pressure. HMRC investigations can be costly, time-consuming and can cause enormous stress for the owner-managers and directors involved.”
It is precisely because of risks like this that many smaller companies choose to employ accountants in Goole or anywhere else that offer specially tailored services to handle the financial side of their business.