A pensioner who set up more than 26 fictitious companies claiming to sell anti-snoring devices in a £280,000 VAT fraud has been jailed.
Anthony Newton, 68, – who called himself ‘Sir Anthony’ on credit cards – made over 100 false claims for VAT refunds to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
He used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including taking expensive holidays and maintaining a luxury apartment in one of Spain’s most sought-after golf resorts.
Newton was caught after HMRC officers found that a significant number of his company registrations were linked to the same product, an anti-snoring device called The Snorestopper.
Officers discovered that all of Newton’s businesses were bogus and had been set up solely to steal tax. He had registered company names to mailbox addresses in Wakefield, London and Leeds but was living at his luxury apartment in Marbella.
When HMRC challenged Newton he supplied a range of invoices and receipts showing thousands of pounds of business purchases and expenditure.
Officers discovered that these documents were not only false but that Newton had hijacked the identities of innocent people using them to set up fraudulent companies.
Newton fraudulently received around £147,000 in VAT refunds and attempted to claim a further £143,000. He was arrested at his home in Leeds in April last year and was later charged with cheating the Public Revenue contrary to common law.
Newton, of The Moorings, Alwoodley, Leeds, was jailed for two years at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. (Jan 11)
He was also disqualified as a company director for six years.
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. In any view this was a serious case of a sophisticated fraud.”