Norfolk ‘spy’ told to cough up £615,000 - or face more jail time
- Credit: HMRC
A Norfolk tax fraudster, who claimed he was a spy in an attempt to cover his tracks, has been ordered to pay £615,000 or face a further five years behind bars.
Raymond Thomas, 73, of Tilney All Saints, was jailed for four years and eight months in November 2017, after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found he had stolen £1.6m.
In an attempt to hide his crime, Thomas told family and friends he was a spy and often worked abroad. In reality, he was travelling to holiday homes funded by his fraud in Berlin, Kefalonia and Perpignan with his wife, Susan Weston, 70, who helped to launder the money.
The fantasist told 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.
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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.
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On Monday, he was back at Manchester Crown Court, and ordered to pay back £616,551 and Weston £439,551 within three months. They will receive default prison sentences and if they do not pay Thomas will go to prison for five years and Weston for four years.
Even if the default sentence is served the order for repayment remains and the money is still owed.
Martin Lynagh, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: "Thomas lived a life of luxury funded by taxpayers, but we put an end to that. Not only has he been jailed, but he will now have to sell assets to repay the stolen money.
"We will continue to pursue those involved in tax fraud and money laundering and urge anyone with information about these types of crimes to report it to us online, or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887."
THOMAS was sentenced to 56 months in prison at Manchester Crown Court on November 1 2017, having pleaded guilty on July 21 2017 to:
? Fraud by submission of false VAT returns between October 1 2008 and December 31 2013.
? Knowingly producing false invoices to fraudulently reclaim VAT payments.
? Money laundering.
? Weston, of Kersal Way, Salford, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, at Manchester Crown Court on November 1 2017. She admitted money laundering August 7-12 2014.