A PENSIONER who set up more than 26 bogus businesses selling anti-snoring devices as part of a “sophisticated” VAT fraud has been jailed.
Anthony Van Jeffery Newton, 68, made more than 100 false claims for VAT refunds worth more than £147,00 to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over four years.
Newton had companies registered to mailboxes in Wakefield, Leeds and London but lived in a luxury apartment on one of Spain’s most exclusive golf resorts in Marbella.
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.
Invoices and receipts which claimed to show thousands of pounds worth of business purchases and expenditure were also found to be false.
And officers also discovered Newton had stolen the identities of innocent people to set up the fraudulent companies.
Peter Hollier, HMRC assistant director for criminal investigation, said: “Newton 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 Newton has lost his home in Spain.
“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.”
Newton also attempted to make claims for a further £143,000 before he was arrested at his home in Alwoodley, Leeds, last April.
He was jailed for two years and disqualified from being a company director for six years at Leeds Crown Court on Friday.
His Honour, Judge Tom Bayliss QC, said: “This was a systematic fraud on the public revenue, professional, planned and deliberate. It was a brazen use of false identities which could have caused irreversible damage to the people who had no knowledge of what you had done and in any view this was a serious case of a sophisticated fraud.”