A gang of tax cheats who managed to get away with £560k before being caught out by the taxman has been listed in HMRC’s top five tax convictions of 2013. The gang members were sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison after stealing the identities of over 3000 people, many of whom were Polish nationals living and working in the UK. The four men set up a “fraud factory” where they stole the identities of people who responded to their fake classified ads offering job opportunities, as well as people who had provided their contact details for other classified adverts. The gang all took on various roles, submitting false self-assessment tax repayment claims to HMRC using stolen identities. One of the gang, Lyubomyr Sytaiylo, had been a tax agent previously and lived in Sandbanks, one of the most exclusive residential areas in the UK.
According to reports, it is impossible to know the true extent of the fraud and the exact number of identities stolen, but at least 1,300 separate false claims were made to the Revenue, the likes of some of which were unheard of by HMRC.
Sytaiylo was jailed for seven and a half years, while his accomplices each received six and a half years, four and a half years, and four years for their part in the scam.
Official figures show that almost 700 tax and benefits cheats were convicted in 2013, which is considerably up on 2012’s number of 477. The convictions total a combined prison sentence of 355 years for fraudsters, including VAT, income tax and benefits cheats and smugglers.
The government has invested almost £1bn into HMRC’s efforts to catch tax and benefit fraudsters and the Revenue claims to be well on its way to achieving increased targets for the number of prosecutions in 2014/2015. Don’t get caught out by the new, stricter tax legislation: if you are concerned about your tax affairs and are worried that you may be at risk of a visit from the taxman, get some independent advice from a specialist tax advisor before it’s too late
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