King's Lynn man who claimed to be a spy jailed for £1.6m tax fraud
A fraudster who stole £1.6m while claiming he was a spy has been jailed.
Raymond Thomas, 71, of Tilney All Saints near King’s Lynn, told family and friends he was often working abroad for the secret services.
In reality he was travelling to various holiday homes funded by a massive VAT fraud.
The fantasist told HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators he worked for US Homeland Security. He claimed he ran a business called Cambridge Computer Graphics (CCG) which made aviation radar systems and worked for the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
But HMRC found the business was a sham and Thomas had created a string of false invoices to support fraudulent VAT refund claims between 2008 and 2013.
The crime was uncovered after HMRC found discrepancies after a claim for £98,000. Thomas said his work for the US meant he had to destroy paperwork. But checks with the US departments and other alleged suppliers revealed invoices were forged.
Thomas told friends and family he was a spy and was working overseas when he was holidaying with his wife, Susan Weston, 69, at properties they owned in Berlin, Kefalonia and Perpignan.
Weston helped launder stolen money in and out of the business. The pair were arrested for money laundering at her home in Manchester after HMRC officers found Thomas had sent £81,700 to his wife’s account.
Throughout the investigation Thomas maintained he was working for Homeland Security and said: “Everything will come out in the wash in the end.”
Thomas admitted to VAT fraud, money laundering and producing false documents at Manchester Crown Court at a hearing in July 2017 and was has now been jailed for 56 months by the same court.
Weston was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, for money laundering.
Cheryl Burr, assistant director of fraud investigation services at HMRC, said: “This was an astonishing case. Thomas lived a life of utter fabrication and lied to pretty much everyone he knew.
“In reality, Thomas was a criminal who carried out a sustained attack on the public purse stealing money that should have been funding our public services. But he is now paying the price for his crime.”
Proceedings are now under way to recover the stolen money.