UK jails two Nigerians over COVID-19 loan theft

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A Southwark Crown Court has sentenced two persons of Nigerian descent Timilehin Olasemo and Olufumi Akinneye, to a total of over eight years in prison for benefitting illegally from the United Kingdom’s coronavirus loan scheme.

Under the UK Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), financial support is provided to small and medium-sized businesses affected by the pandemic; business owners can borrow as low as £2,000 and as high as 25 percent of turnover.

The Metropolitan Police, in a statement on Wednesday, said the convicts connived to benefit from illegal loan applications worth £489,000 and had received over £250,000 at the time of their arrest.

Olasemo, 39, a human resource executive, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and impersonation in November 2020, and was sentenced to three years and two months in prison at the resumed court hearing on Wednesday.

Akinneye, 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.”

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

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