A man who set up more than 26 bogus businesses selling anti-snoring devices as part of a “sophisticated” VAT fraud has been jailed.
The 68 year old pensioner from Leeds made more than 100 false claims for VAT refunds worth more than £147,00 to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over four years. He used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including taking expensive holidays and maintaining a luxury apartment in one of Spain’s most sought after golf resorts.
He was caught after HMRC officers found a significant number of his company registrations were linked to the same product - an anti-snoring device called “The Snorestopper”.
They then discovered all the businesses were bogus and had been set up solely with the intention to steal tax. He was jailed for two years and disqualified from being a company director for six years at Leeds Crown Court.
Stolen identities used
Invoices and receipts which claimed to show thousands of pounds worth of business purchases and expenditure were also found to be false. Officers also discovered the pensioner had stolen the identities of innocent people to set up the fraudulent companies.
Peter Hollier, HMRC assistant director for criminal investigation, said: “HMRC staff are trained to look for unusual trading patterns and once suspicions had been raised it was only a matter of time before his attempts to fraudulently claim VAT refunds were exposed.”
“He thought he could make extra money to fund his retirement at the expense of the taxpayer – but he was mistaken and as a direct result of our investigation he has lost his home in Spain”
Read more about the fraud on the HMRC website.
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