Police have seized £115,000 of cryptocurrency believed to have come from fraudulent applications for bounce back loans designed to help small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A 35-year-old woman was arrested in Ipswich on Wednesday on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.
It follows an investigation by detectives from the Met’s proactive money laundering team, which was launched after officers suspected the woman was controlling a large sum of fraudulently obtained Bitcoin.
The government’s Bounce Back Loan scheme, which allows small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, launched in May.
Detectives established that a number of mule bank accounts – used to transfer criminal cash on behalf of others – had been used to receive the proceeds of fraudulent applications to the scheme.
The money was then transferred from the mule accounts to the cryptocurrency wallet of the suspect.
Met officers, assisted by Suffolk Police, searched a home in Ipswich on Wednesday and found several children on their own.
The suspect was found close to the address and arrested on suspicion of fraud, money laundering and child neglect. She was later released under investigation after being interviewed.
On Thursday, Met officers successfully applied to a London magistrates’ court for the detention of £115,000 of cryptocurrency held in the suspect’s wallet.
The investigation continues.
Detective Sergeant Ian Barrett, from the Met’s proactive money laundering team, 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.
“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 organised financial crime and bring these serious criminals to justice.”
PA news agency