Former chip shop owner pleads guilty to £19,000 Covid grants fraud

Huseyin made eight applications to Barnet Council for the grants, which were intended to help struggling businesses stay open.

Huseyin ran Popeye’s fish and chip shop on Mount Parade, Cockfosters. But he was no longer trading when he applied for the grants – worth £19,246 in total – and had handed the business to someone else who was paying him rent.

An investigation by the council’s counter-fraud team found some of the documents he supplied to support the applications had been altered to make it look like he had still been trading.

When interviewed under caution, Huseyin claimed he was still the leaseholder and so the official owner but was challenged on this as the new trader had paid him rent.

The defendant admitted to making the applications and receiving the funds but denied producing false documents, claiming that someone called Mahmood must have altered and submitted them without his knowledge.

But Huseyin could not show any correspondence between him and Mahmood, claiming that he had ‘air dropped’ the documents to his phone. Further investigations found the phone number provided for Mahmood was linked to the defendant, and the phone line was registered months after the offences took place.

Appearing at Willesden Magstrates Court on 23 May, Huseyin pleaded guilty to five counts of Fraud by False Representation (section 2 Fraud Act 2006) and four offences contrary to section 7 Fraud Act 2006: supplying articles for use in the course of or in connection with fraud. The matter was committed to Harrow Crown Court for sentencing because of the seriousness of the offences.

A Barnet Council spokesperson said: “It is vitally important that we protect public funds so that they can be used for their intended purpose – to benefit the residents of our borough.

“We will pursue anyone found to be making fraudulent claims at the taxpayer’s expense and do everything within our power to ensure they are brought to justice.”

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