On April 8th 2020, we questioned whether Covid restrictions were too late to stop the bug and just in time to wreck the economy. Nostra culpa. We had not reckoned on repeated lockdowns, the patchwork of restrictions and what must be the cleverest bunch of crooks on earth. What follows is a sad tale of taxpayer rip-off based on all the evidence we could find – the ending leaves a bitter taste.
Once the World Health Organisation declared the pandemic on March 11th 2020, governments worldwide focused on measures to sustain their economies. In this article, we focus on the measures taken by the U.K. Government since March 2020, some of which are still active, and we examine the evidence of fraud. Part of our efforts is to understand the effects of human interventions during the pandemic.
Fraud is a criminal activity with the evident intent of stealing funds from the public purse by subterfuge. Fraud is different from waste resulting from poor accountancy or incompetence because the motive is different. As with all public measures, the sums invested and those stolen are estimates. We tried hard to keep the tallies of fraud and wastage separate. We may not have succeeded entirely, partly because the two are difficult to distinguish and because fraud can only be ascertained at the end of a legal process, which is still ongoing in some cases. The restrictions imposed by the pandemic hampered financial oversight, investigation and legal proceedings. For example, interviews under caution could not take place remotely.