A woman in England has been arrested, and ₤115,000 [AUS$209,146] in Bitcoin that was allegedly bought with fraudulent COVID-19 loans has been seized.
The woman, age 35, was arrested for money laundering, child neglect, and suspicion of fraud, per LBC News.
Buying Bitcoin with COVID-19 relief
Investigators from the Met’s proactive money laundering team says the woman, who hails from Ipswich, Suffolk, amassed a large amount of Bitcoin by abusing the UK government’s “Bounce Back Loans” program.
The program is designed to help small businesses weather the current economic ravages of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses can borrow from ₤2,000 [AUS$3,648] to ₤50,000 [AUS$91,216]. The program was launched back in May.
Police say that the focus of the investigation was on mule bank accounts. These accounts are used to transfer cash from criminals to launder it. The money in the accounts came from fraudulent applications to the government’s “Bounce Back Loans” program.
The money gained from the fraud was used to buy Bitcoin. This cryptocurrency was seized by the police when they executed a search warrant.
Children left alone
The search warrant was issued on Wednesday. Police from the Suffolk Constabulary’s Proactive Crime Team and officers from the Met then searched the woman’s home.
What they found was a number of young children left unattended. The woman was eventually found a short time later close to her home and was then arrested.
The mule bank accounts were created by using stolen personal and financial data from multiple people. A member of the Met’s proactive money laundering team, Detective Sergeant Ian Barrett, said, “I would implore people to be careful about what personal and banking information they give out online or over the phone. If you feel your bank account is being used by others, promptly report it to your bank and Action Fraud.”
He added, “For people to take advantage of Government support available to those who really need it in these unprecedented times is appalling. I would like to assure the public that the Met remain committed to working with institutions in the regulated financial sector and law enforcement partners to tackle organized financial crime and bring these serious criminals to justice.”
The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world. At the time of writing, there have been over 21.3 million cases reported with over 760,000 deaths. The United Kingdom has reported 316,367 cases and a total of 41,358 deaths from the virus.