First arrest made for fake covid-19 business benefit fraud

Police equipment, including handcuffs, baton, and two-way radio, on a Dutch squad carphoto: twixx / DepositPhotos

A 25-year-old man from Naaldwijk has been arrested on Tuesday for suspected forgery and fraud after allegedly lying about the economic activity of his business while registering for TOGS benefits, the financial crimes inspectorate FIOD has confirmed.

The man, whose activities were detected after a bank noticed an unusual transaction, had reportedly organized his business as a sole proprietorship despite the fact that the business had neither any operating expenses nor any revenue on the books. "It is therefore doubtful whether he suffered any loss of turnover due to the Covid-19 measures," the FIOD wrote in a statement.

According to FIOD, the man went on to cash in a TOGS allowance for his business, a government support scheme that grants up to four thousand euros to affected companies in sectors which have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

The man's arrest prompted the authorities to conduct a home search on Thursday, with a computer and a number of telephones being seized in the process, the financial crimes unit confirmed.

"The corona crisis brings out the best in many people. Unfortunately, some see opportunities for fraud. Abusing the corona crisis is socially unacceptable," added the FIOD.