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2022 / 2023 Edition

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VAT fraud gang crushed

HMRC conclude successful prosecution

HMRC concludes successful prosecution against gang selling fictitious concrete crushing machines

SEVENTEEN people have been sentenced for a £2.3 million VAT repayment fraud using the sale of fictitious concrete crushing machines to fund extravagant lifestyles.

The gang, masterminded by Paul Hackney from Stoke-on-Trent, set up a string of companies to steal money from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) so that they could buy high-performance cars, expensive jewellery and exotic holidays at the taxpayer’s expense.

Adrian Farley, assistant director of criminal investigation for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said: ‘They thought their plan would go undetected because they had created such a complex paper trail – but they were wrong. We will unravel even the most complex cases of fraud and bring those responsible before the courts so justice can be served.’

The group fabricated transactions and sales of construction equipment, producing fake invoices and paperwork to try and make their companies look like legitimate traders to reclaim VAT on sales and exports. However, they did not pay any VAT as the ‘goods’ did not exist.

The defendants, three women and 14 men from Staffordshire, the North West and Essex, were arrested by HMRC officers between February and November 2010 after an extensive investigation into their criminal activities.

Sentences handed out to the 17 gang members ranged from five years and three months in jail to a 12-month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work.

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