A fraudster who tried to steal more than £70,000 in tax refunds has been jailed. Unemployed Joshua Lear, 28, from Telford, submitted 15 bogus self-assessment tax refund claims to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) between 2015 and 2021.
These forms are used by people if they have overpaid income tax. To make his claims appear legitimate, Lear made up figures for construction work he did not do and used other people’s National Insurance details to fill in the online forms.
Even though he tried to steal £71,623, Lear only received £6,094.83 in total. Nine of his claims have been blocked by HMRC.
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Unemployed Kieran Causer, 29, also from Telford, helped Lear transfer the stolen money to a personal bank account as the couple tried to launder the stolen money. Lear pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud and one count of money laundering at Birmingham Crown Court on April 13.
At sentencing, the judge, His Worship Mr Justice Roderick Henderson, described Mr Lear as a ‘recidivist’ and after being arrested he ‘continued to offend’.
Lear was sentenced on June 17 to two years and seven months in prison for fraud and money laundering. Meanwhile, Causer pleaded guilty to money laundering at Birmingham Crown Court on April 13.
He was sentenced to six months in prison, including 18 months suspended, on June 17 by the same court. The HMRC spokesperson said: “Tax evasion is not a victimless crime and we will continue to prosecute the small minority of individuals who commit these crimes. We urge anyone with information about tax evasion to report it online to HMRC.”
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