A former RAF airman turned gambling addict has been sentenced after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation exposed his latest fraud.
Matthew Johnson, 31, of Cherry Tree Gardens, Crowle, set up two fictional companies and submitted fraudulent VAT repayment claims in bid to steal more than £10,000 from the public purse.
But the greedy con began to unravel in July 2014 when HMRC asked for copies of invoices and receipts to support claims Johnson had made for bogus businesses MATS Locks and Axholme Travel.
The ex-serviceman, who was jailed in 2012 after fraudulently receiving an £88,000 Income Tax refund, failed to provide the information and triggered an investigation into his tax affairs that would ultimately end in his second prison sentence.
Jo Tyler, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “This is the second time Matthew Johnson has come to the attention of HMRC, and it’s the second time his greed has landed him in court.
“By claiming fraudulent VAT repayments, Johnson was essentially stealing from the British taxpayer and depriving the country of the money it needs to keep public services running. Tax fraud is not a victimless crime, and we will always pursue those who are suspected of involvement in such criminality.”
Johnson was arrested on suspicion of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT during a search of his home November 2014. HMRC found that both the locksmith and travel businesses – with an alleged turnover totalling £125,000 – never traded.
Investigators turned their attention to Johnson’s bank statements and discovered that most of the £10,420 repayment had been used to fund a gambling habit, with a particular fondness for online betting websites.
Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of the fraudulent evasion of VAT at Grimsby Crown Court on 6 July 2015. He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work by His Honour Judge Robinson at Grimsby Crown Court today, 5 October 2015.