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personal finance

Convicted fraudster says coronavirus payouts will be 'next PPI'


A convicted fraudster who says that payments from the coronavirus will be “the next PPI” is among those who have been registering companies with names like Coronavirus Compensation Ltd since the crisis has taken hold.

Individuals have been positioning themselves for the future by officially registering dozens of companies with variations of coronavirus, Covid and Covid-19 over the past several weeks.

Among them are Corona Virus Claims Ltd and Coronavirus Compensation Ltd, which were registered to an address in Leeds by Marc Feldman on 12 March, the day Boris Johnson described the coronavirus as the worst public health crisis for a generation.

Feldman was sentenced to 30 months in jail in October 2016 for his role in a £10m smuggling tax fraud in which he and four other men met at roadside cafes and used free public wifi to hide their activities. The gang had created fake businesses, aliases and contact shipping companies to give the impression of trading in other goods.

He was handed a 12-month suspended prison sentence six years earlier after being convicted of a £159,000 fraud in which he and another man hid behind the facade of a registered company while persuading other firms to hand over stock in the pretence they would pay for it.

Feldman, from Leeds, told the Guardian: “Looking forward I see the next big thing about a year down the road from now will be that coronavirus will be the new PPI.

“For the people that have lost relatives, people who have been poorly and people who have lost businesses there will be some kind of claims system. I think it will be the new PPI and that is the reason I have registered the companies.”

Feldman added that he didn’t intend to set up a coronavirus PPI style business but had registered the company name to sell it on: “My job is, shall we say, to make the companies linked to the events happening around us.”

Buying and selling companies was his “attempt at doing straight business”, he added.

“I am doing nothing wrong. I have been involved in criminal activity and I have been to prison. But I have paid my dues and fines.”

More than 500 coronavirus-related scams and over 2,000 phishing attempts by criminals seeking to exploit fears over the pandemic have been reported to UK investigators, figures revealed earlier this month. Many of them have targeted elderly people who are self-isolating, while one of the latest included criminals asking for donations to help the NHS fight Covid-19.

Separately, some 13 companies have been registered on Companies House since late February with the name coronavirus, along with 11 that have Covid in the title.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing or intent to engage in wrongdoing by those connected with the companies.


Among them is Coronavirus Refunds Ltd, which was incorporated on 17 March by Muthupandi Ganesan, a barrister. Ganesan was approached for comment about his plans for the company but did not respond.

Ganesan leads the money Laundering and Asset Recovery team at the law firm, Scarmans. He also lectures internationally on anti-money laundering issues and has trained enforcement agencies, police, lawyers in states including India, Russia, Romania, Kyrgyzstan and the UK.

Other companies include Coronavirus Deep Cleaning Services Ltd, Coronavirus Cleaning Products Ltd and Coronavirus Grants Support Services Ltd. The person controlling the companies, Ajay Patel, has been involved in a glazing business in Edgware, London.

Asked by the Guardian what he intended to do with the new companies, Patel said they were part of a plan to help people. He didn’t intend to make any money out of them and he said he needed to speak to his accountant about his plans.

Other companies include Covid 19 Fashion Ltd, which was incorporated at the end of March as a wholesaler of clothing, footwear and textiles by a woman in Essex.



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