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Covid-19 loan fraud: Two Nigerians jailed in the UK

Two Nigerian, Timilehin Olasemo and David Akinneye are currently in jail in the UK for fraudulently claiming about £500k in loan meant for businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The two Nigerians who exploited the UK Government’s Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) by using the identities of eight innocent people to fraudulently obtain £489,000 have pleaded guilty to the crimes.

Due to the absence of the economic activity occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government initiated a scheme to support struggling businesses.

In a statement published on Wednesday by the Metropolitan police, Olasemo and Akinneye were said to have connived to benefit from illegal loan applications worth £489,000, and had received over £250,000 at the time of their arrest.

Olasemo, 39-year-old, who is said to be a human resource executive, was charged to court over “conspiracy to commit fraud”, and impersonation and sentenced on Wednesday to three years and two months in prison

David Akinneye, aged 33, is described as her accomplice, and was sentenced to five years and six months in prison.

“Akinneye was the first out of the two to be identified during ongoing enquiries into organised criminality by officers of the Met’s North West London Economic Crime Unit. Olasemo was identified from evidence seized during Akinneye’s arrest,” the statement reads.

“On Friday, 16 October, officers from Met’s North West Economic Crime Unit, part of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Central Specialist Crime Command, arrested Olasemo at her home address. She was charged and remanded in custody the same day.

“The investigating officers identified that £489,000 worth of fraudulent loan applications were made using ten identities. Of this, £297,000 worth of loans were successfully obtained by the pair and dissipated. The remaining amount was successfully stopped by the banks.

“It was discovered that Olasemo had obtained and used the personal details of eight individuals in order to fraudulently apply for the loans. She had stolen these identities after accessing employee records containing personal information during her employment.

“The fraudulently obtained monies was paid into the business bank account before being dispersed into mule accounts and later withdrawn from cash machines. Throughout this process, Olasemo sought advice from an accomplice named Olufumi David Akinneye.

“Akinneye provided Olasemo with guidance in relation to laundering the proceeds of the frauds and safe addresses to use as correspondence for accounts. He also acted as a middle-man between people who were willing to sell on their bank accounts for use in fraud and other fraudsters who needed mule accounts to receive money obtained from diversion frauds.”

Speaking on the conviction, Chris Collins of the Metropolitan’s north west economic crime unit, said: “Today’s result serves as evidence of the zero-tolerance approach the MPS takes to individuals found guilty of fraud.”

“We will continue to crack down on individuals who are found to be exploiting government schemes for their own monetary gain,” he added.

Meanwhile, Akinneye, who was arrested in August 2020, was also found guilty of being involved in a romance scam.