Husband and wife among gang arrested for alleged international PPE fraud
Three people including a husband and wife have been arrested in an investigation into a multi-million pound international PPE freud.
Officers from the National Crime Agency searched two properties in Loughborough and one in Lytham St Annes on Wednesday where they made the arrests and seized cars, jewellery, watches and digital devices.
A man, in his 50s and from Loughborough, is suspected of setting up a UK company solely for running a fraudulent scheme that would allow him to profit from PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) shortages during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. His wife is suspected of helping to launder the proceeds.
During the pandemic, both individuals and businesses were impacted by criminal opportunists. We continue to treat this area as a priority and thank @leicspolice and partners overseas for their ongoing support.
— National Crime Agency (NCA) (@NCA_UK) February 8, 2023
Investigators believe the company brokered sale agreements to supply nitrile gloves to companies in the USA and Germany worth over $35 million.
An upfront fee was paid to the UK company to cover initial costs and secure the contracts, but paid into a holding account being managed by a third party.
The holding account provided assurances that funds paid in would only be released upon conditions of the contract being met.
However, it is alleged the couple were able to access the initial sums paid without ever satisfying the sale terms.
The third person arrested, a 39 year-old man, is suspected of aiding the scheme. Together they may have defrauded the companies by almost £1.9 million pounds ($2.35 million).
NCA Branch Commander Mick Pope said: “During the pandemic, both individuals and businesses were impacted by criminal opportunists. The NCA prioritised and tackled a range of serious organised crime threats, including fraud.
“False business agreements that turn out to be fraud, damage the reputation of the UK and hurt our economy.
“We continue to treat this as a priority area and thank Leicestershire Police for their ongoing support. Work is underway with law enforcement partners in the US and Germany to further this investigation.”