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​Ex-Fish and Chip Shop Owner Admits to £19,000 Covid Grant Fraud

​Ex-Fish and Chip Shop Owner Admits to £19,000 Covid Grant Fraud

Posted by Emma on 4th Jun 2024

A former fish and chip shop owner from North London has been found guilty of fraudulently obtaining Covid business grants worth over £19,000. Huseyin Bozkina, residing in Blanchard Grove, Enfield, admitted to nine counts of fraud during a court appearance at Willesden Magistrates Court on 23 May. The grants, provided by Barnet Council, were intended to support struggling businesses during the pandemic.

Willesden Magistrates Court - - 6377185 Willesden Magistrates Court by Des Blenkinsopp, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bozkina, who previously ran Popeye's fish and chip shop on Mount Parade, Cockfosters, applied for the grants despite no longer operating the business. He had transferred ownership and was receiving rent from the new operator. Barnet Council's counter-fraud team uncovered the fraudulent activity and found that Bozkina had submitted altered documents to make it appear as though he was still trading.

The investigation revealed discrepancies in the documents provided by Bozkina. Under caution, Bozkina admitted to applying for and receiving the funds but denied fabricating the documents. He suggested Mahmood might have altered and submitted the documents without his knowledge. However, Bozkina failed to provide any evidence of communication with Mahmood, and further probing revealed that the phone number attributed to Mahmood was linked to Bozkina himself. Additionally, the phone line was registered months after the fraudulent applications were made.

In court, Bozkina pleaded guilty to five counts of Fraud by False Representation under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 and four counts of supplying articles for use in fraud under section 7 of the same act. Due to the severity of the offences, the case has been transferred to Harrow Crown Court for sentencing.

A spokesperson for Barnet Council emphasised the importance of safeguarding public funds, stating, "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."

Bozkina's fraudulent actions highlight the challenges faced by councils in distributing emergency funds during the pandemic and underscore the importance of stringent verification processes to protect public money.