Werrington electrician jailed over £372k VAT fraud
FRAUDSTER Ross Elliott has been jailed for forging documents to claim more than £372,000 in VAT.
The electrician's scam involved submitting false invoices and contracts for work he had never done over a two-and-a-half year period.
The 34-year-old, of Moorland Avenue, Werrington, was found out after housing developers and householders revealed they had never even heard of him.
Elliott was yesterday handed a three-year prison sentence after admitting being knowingly concerned in obtaining fraudulent payments of VAT between January 11, 2008 and November 2, 2010.
Ruark HiFi - for lovers of good music and fantastic sound
Headphone offer is our own offer as test for these vouchers - so don't delay offer expires 25/05/13
Only with this voucher, choose a set of headphones up to 10% of the units price or add some to it if you want a dearer set
ie Unit for £300 would give you £30 towards headphones of your choice
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Saturday, May 25 2013
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court was told that self-employed Elliott registered for VAT in 2002 and ran the firm Elliott Electrical from his home.
Records revealed that Elliott, who has no previous convictions, initially cashed cheques worth thousands of pounds at outlets in Telford and Sheffield.
Elliott had attempted to exploit HM Revenue and Customs' (HRMC) policy that new build developments are exempt from VAT meaning contractors do not pass on the charge.
The fraudster had informed HMRC he had carried out work for national home-building firms including Barratt, David Wilson and Waterloo.
Martin Reid, prosecuting, said: "In July 2010 he claimed to have been carrying out electrical work on new build housing estates which have a zero-rate for VAT.
"He also presented a list of purchases and banking records which were screen shots.
"No stock was seen at his house and he told officers that they went straight to the site."
The suppliers which had been listed later told HMRC they had not sent Elliott any products with one firm claimed they didn't even sell electrical goods.
During the deception, Elliott also forged invoices to domestic customers who also confirmed he had never carried out work for them.
Neil Percer, defending, said: "This is not the sort of fraud where a criminal gang set up a company just for fraud – the defendant did trade as an electrician.
"There was real work and real claims. But having got in to financial difficulty he reached out and took the over-ripe hanging fruit."
Elliott's initial four-year sentence was reduced to three years in light of his guilty plea.
Judge Granville Styler told the defendant: "Your claims were fraudulent from the outset and you knew what you were doing."
Elliott will appear at a proceeds of crime hearing in due course.