Two Londoners have been jailed for fraud and money-laundering after they scammed banks out almost £300,000 meant for COVID-hit businesses.
Timilehin Yvette Olasemo of Romford was sentenced to three years and two months at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, while Olufumi David Akinneye of Lambeth got five years and six months for conspiracy to money launder and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Olasemo used the stolen identities of ten people to apply for £489,000 in fast-tracked government-backed loans to businesses to help them through the pandemic lockdown, making off with £297,000 before banks stopped the rest. Akinneye laundered the money through so-called "mule accounts", paying their owners to let him transfer money through them.
“Today’s result serves as evidence of the zero-tolerance approach the MPS takes to individuals found guilty of fraud," said Detective Constable Chris Collins, of the Metropolitan Police Service’s North West Economic Crime Unit. “We will continue to crackdown on individuals who are found to be exploiting government schemes for their own monetary gain.”
The pair both pleaded guilty at the court last November.
Olasemo, who was arrested in October, saw loopholes in the government's Coronavirus Bounce Back loan scheme for businesses suffering under the lockdown.
"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."
Akinneye was also convicted of "romance fraud", posing as a woman to ensnare men and making up stories to beg them for money for flights, accommodation and a replacement passport.