Tax cheat stole whopping £100,000 to watch Leeds United and fund online gambling

PIC: (top) Johnston Press, (bottom) PA.
PIC: (top) Johnston Press, (bottom) PA.
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A tax cheat who stole £100,000 in repayments to spend on attending Leeds United matches has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

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Blaine Wakeman, a 26-year-old teacher from Birmingham, lied about purchases and financial losses from his two companies that provided children’s sports coaching to fraudulently claim VAT repayments, an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed.

Wakeman used the cash to fund online gambling, golf memberships and holidays as well as Leeds matches. He was handed a 21-month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday, June 8 after pleading guilty to the offences.

HMRC checks raised concerns over the tax returns of Wakeman’s companies Sports Plus Scheme Staffordshire and Inspire Sports Education Limited and a criminal investigation was launched in June 2016.

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Wakeman initially denied any wrongdoing and produced fake invoices and bank statements.

But in October 2017 he admitted producing the false documents and fraudulently claiming VAT repayments between October 2013 and August 2016.

Richard Young, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Wakeman knew what he was doing was wrong. He was abusing the tax system to fund a lifestyle he couldn’t legitimately afford.

“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.”