A man who convinced two friends to let him handle their tax affairs, and then made fraudulent repayment claims to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), has been sentenced.
Paul Lawrence, 35, from Hornchurch, East London, submitted Self-Assessment tax returns to HMRC between 2012 and 2015 which included false information about their income to fraudulently receive £21,000 in tax repayments.
He made multiple repayment claims after assuring his friends he was a qualified accountant, then used the cash he banked to visit bars and stay in hotels.
Lawrence, 35, received repayments from his own Self-Assessment account and from his pals’ by exaggerating expenses claims and downplaying the amounts of earnings.
Brett Wilkinson, Assistant Director, Financial Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Lawrence knew what he was doing was wrong. He was abusing the tax system to fund his lifestyle and dragged his blameless friends into the mire.
“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime. It affects us all by depriving the public services of vital funding. I would ask anyone with information about tax fraud to report it online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Lawrence admitted nine charges of fraud by false representation and was sentenced to 15 months of jail at Inner London Crown Court on August, 2018. It was suspended for two years, but he will have to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and attend a ‘Thinking Skills’ rehabilitation program to prevent him reoffending.
HMRC will now pursue confiscation proceedings against Lawrence.