Over 5000 fraudsters have applied for the COVID-19 stimulus fund

Data from the National Board and Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) has revealed that 5,200 out of a total of 450,000 applicants who applied for government’s Covid-19 stimulus fund are fraudsters.

The one billion cedis Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) instituted by government to provide support for businesses and cushion them from the impact of the pandemic.

But the NBSSI says it has detected that some of the applicants had fictitious data, documents and personal details, Graphic.com.gh reports.

The Executive Director of NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, who made this known at a press conference in Accra last Friday, said some of the fraud cases detected had been forwarded to security agencies for investigations.

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“The online portal developed to receive applications has detected more than 5,200 fraud alerts representing multiple applications with same mobile money or bank account details. For instance, we identified that one person registered for over 100 people in a community with the same documentation, mobile money contact or account number.

“And so what we did was to engage the services of KPMG, a tax consulting firm, to do a data analysis of the applications to help make the right decisions,” she said.

In view of this, the NBSSI together with the CAP Steering Committee have extended the deadline for applications from June 20 to 26 to enable it address all fraud-related cases before the fund is disbursed.

Mrs Yankey-Ayeh told the media that the analysis would allow them to detect those using fictitious documentation such as fraudulent tax identification number (TIN), contact numbers and same account numbers.

Factored into the extension of the deadline were concerns raised by some trade and business associations who requested more time to enable some of their members to submit their applications.

“We had to give all concerns careful thought to arrive at the six-day extension. The grace period presents an opportunity to rectify complaints and errors of applicants with wrong credentials recorded on the digitalised application portal,” she said.

Other reasons included delayed applications due to challenges encountered in the acquisition of the TIN.

Mrs Yankey-Ayeh also said the extension was an opportunity to mop up paper applications from cut-off communities and rural areas with no internet, for processing onto a digitised system.

As of June 18, 2020, the executive director said more than 450,000 applicants, representing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), had registered for the fund; 75 per cent of whom had successfully completed their applications.

Applicants who registered via mobile phones represented 58.8 per cent while the remaining 41.2 per cent did it directly on the web portal, she said.

Mrs Yankey-Ayeh said 66 per cent of the applicants were females who requested 47 per cent of the total value of funds, while the remaining 34 per cent male applicants demanded 52.6 per cent of the funds.

The executive director also said the NBSSI had intensified collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to facilitate TIN acquisition for applicants.

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