Tax officers foil man’s £88k VAT fraud

Michael Woods
Michael Woods

A Boston man was caught by vigilant tax officers after attempting to pull off an £88,000 VAT fraud, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Lorry driver Michael Woods submitted a quarterly VAT return claiming he was due the money but the form attracted the suspicions of HMRC officers as the same form indicated a turnover of just £1,000 during the period.

Robert Underwood, prosecuting at Friday’s hearing, said that Woods was then asked to give further details and claimed to have purchased to lorries during the VAT period submitting false invoices to back up his story.

The tax officers checked out the supplier and discovered that Woods had not bought the lorries and so the VAT repayment he claimed to be due was never paid.

Woods, 49, of Porcher Way, Boston, denied being concerned in the evasion of VAT and a further charge of being knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity to obtain tax credits but was convicted by a jury following a trial.

He was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years with 12 months supervision. Judge Michael Heath told him: “You are a devious individual. Had your scam succeeded you would have walked away with £88,000 of hard-working and honest tax payers’ money to which you were not entitled.

“I had come to the conclusion that only an immediate sentence of imprisonment was appropriate. However, having regard to what is said in the medical report I have decided that given the dependency on you by your wife it would be appropriate to suspend that sentence.”

Philip Bown, defending, said Woods is the main carer for his wife who suffers from a number of serious health problems and she would suffer if he were given an immediate jail sentence.

Mr Bown said “He acts impulsively and does not think about the consequences.

“The VAT matter is a very odd offence. The VAT return demonstrates an input tax of only £200 - in other words a turnover of just over £1,000 for that quarter. The massive claim for output tax was utterly designed to attract the suspicions of the authorities and it did. There was a lack of sophistication about this.”

Speaking after the hearing Carolyn Norsworthy, assistant director for criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “This was a blatant VAT fraud which would have succeeded if HMRC officers had not been suspicious of the claims. This criminal activity is not acceptable when the majority of people pay their dues.

“If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000”