A North Yorkshire man has been convicted of fraud for wrongly claiming a £10K Covid grant.
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 set out by the government.
His application stated that he was in receipt of the business rate exemption required, so he automatically received the grant of £10k.
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 them his lease had been extended.
A criminal investigation was then launched by Veritau, the council’s anti-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.
He pleaded guilty to all charges at York Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (27 July).
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.”