Gang tried to claim £330m

Thomas Murphy pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and was sentenced to four and a half years.
Thomas Murphy pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and was sentenced to four and a half years.

AFORMER removal man from Creswell has been jailed for four and a half years for his role in an attempted £330 million VAT fraud.

Thomas Murphy, 27, from Sycamore Avenue, was one of six caught by investigators from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the largest fraud attempt of its kind in the UK.

The group claimed their new business, Ideas 2 Go Ltd, had sold more than six million mobile phones and had a turnover of more than £2.4 billion in just eight months.

The ringleader Nigel Cranswick, 47, from Kiveton - an ex-policeman - was sentenced to ten years and three months for his part in the scam.

Using details from hijacked or fictitious companies the gang produced thousands of invoices for sales of mobile phones and computer software, producing billions of pounds in fabricated turnover, which generated around £330 million in fraudulent VAT repayments.

They invented over 6,000 fake business transactions in an attempt to make the repayments appear legitimate.

Murphy became director of the Dinnington-based business between August 2005 and October 2005 and then again between December 2005 and January 2006. He submitted numerous claims for VAT refunds to HMRC and was questioned about large sums of money passing through the business banks accounts and his own personal accounts.

During his time with Ideas 2 Go, Murphy withdrew more than £77,000 cash from ATM machines and paid a local solicitor more than £11,000 in advance of his prosecution by HMRC.

He was arrested in March 2007 and admitted to charges of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

Cranswick went from rags to riches in a matter of weeks. Heavily in debt and only weeks into his new business venture, he quit his job as a serving policeman and began splashing out on extravagant purchases.

Other members of the gang included Cranswick’s sister, Clare Reid, 44, from Beech Road, Maltby, who admitted to two charges of false accounting and was sentenced to nine months in jail, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work in the community. Her partner Darren Smyth, 42, from Maltby, admitted to the charge of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and was sentenced to three years and four months.

Former railway trackman Brian Olive, 66, from Buttermere Close, Doncaster, admitted to the charge of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and was sentenced to three years and four months.

And former council housing officer, Andrew Marsh, 28, of Wales Hall farm, Sheffield, admitted to the charge of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and was sentenced to two years and eight months.