A recent report on BBC Radios 4’s consumer programme, You and Yours, regarding a business grant scam has led Alison Elvey, grant specialist at Robinson Reed Layton Chartered Accountants, to warn Cornish businesses.

“Fraudsters are cold calling businesses offering grants," she said. "However, government bodies offering grants wouldn’t approach businesses this way.”

The fraud, which offers a government business grant of 30 per cent up front, has led to small businesses losing thousands of pounds across the UK. You and Yours reported that many of the businesses affected, aware of the potential for fraud, checked with their accountants, family and friends, the national fraud reporting organisation (ActionFraud), the police, and even the Financial Conduct Authority who all said that there was nothing to worry about.

Alison added: “It is extremely unlikely that anyone offering business grants will hand out funding without evidence of expenditure, so businesses should be wary of anyone offering cash up front. The fraudsters set up websites and asked businesses to complete application forms which added to the belief that the offer was legitimate. However, a newly set up website should raise alarm bells.”

The fraudsters steal the identity of real companies registered at Companies House with real business accounts but who don’t have websites. They then set up their own website in the company’s name and so appear totally legitimate.

Alison added: “With so many grants on offer in Cornwall, it’s always important to ask a grants specialist for their opinion before applying.”