Man prosecuted for COVID-19 fraud after Ryedale District Council raised concerns
A man has been prosecuted for COVID-19 fraud after Ryedale District Council raised concerns about his business grant application.
In April, 2020, Adrian Buckley (54) of Keld Head Orchard, Kirkbymoorside, successfully applied for a COVID-19 business grant as he purported to meet the criteria and eligibility set out by the Government.
Since his application stated that he was in receipt of the eligible business rate exemption and that his business had been operating for the correct length of time, he automatically received the grant of £10k.
However, the fraud came to light when the owners of the building got in touch with Ryedale District Council and applied to have the business rates put back in their names.
The council then contacted Mr. Buckley, who told staff his lease had been extended.
A criminal investigation into his application was conducted by Veritau, the council’s counter fraud service.
Veritau found that Mr. Buckley ceased trading at the address in January 2020 – more than two months before the qualifying date for the grant – and his lease was not going to be extended.
When alerted to the fraud, Mr. Buckley’s account was frozen and the money was paid back to Ryedale District Council.
Attempts were made to contact Mr. Buckley but he declined to cooperate with the investigation.
Mr. Buckley pleaded guilty to all charges at York Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 27 July 2022.
Mr. Buckley was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment (suspended for 18 months) and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.
He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge and court costs, totalling £2,533.
Margaret Wallace, Director of People and Place for Ryedale District Council said:
“Ryedale businesses were hit really hard by COVID-19 and are still recovering now. The grant money was provided for those who needed it and at a time they were most struggling.
“This case demonstrates the strong stance we take against anyone trying to take advantage of the system and claiming help fraudulently.”
You can report fraud affecting local government to the anonymous hotline on 0800 9179 247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
This case was considered at York Magistrates Court on 27/7/22