A fraudster from Uxbridge who carried out a £280,000 tax fraud before claiming he had cancer to avoid investigation has been sentenced to 33 months in prison.
Christopher Stone, 35, was arrested while he was living in Uxbridge for fraudulently claiming back VAT on £1.4m of items for his sham horse trading business, SS Equestrian.
The tax cheat started his business in Yorkshire before moving to Uxbridge and re-registering his business at Park Place in Westminster.
When HMRC asked for a meeting with Stone to discuss his tax affairs he told them he was travelling to the United States for terminal cancer treatment and would be unavailable for two months.
Officers from HMRC placed enquiries at the US Embassy to discover the conman had lied about the cancer treatment and he was arrested in October 2015.
Stone's three-year fraud was discovered when checks with his "suppliers" showed invoices used by the tax cheat to claim back VAT were fake.
Stone doctored bank statements to show bogus sales and purchases.
Investigators found that SS Equestrian had not engaged in any legitimate trade and that Stone had made the company to steal VAT and defraud the taxpayer to the tune of £272,288.62, between 2011 and 2014.
A further claim for £8,763.11 was withheld.
Stone pleaded guilty to the fraud at Isleworth Crown Court and was sentenced to 33 months in prison on Wednesday April 12.
Paul Barton, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a despicable attempt to avoid justice by a crook desperate to save his own skin. Stone tried to manipulate a system that exists for the benefit of legitimate and hardworking businesses, covering his tracks with a shameful lie.
“HMRC will continue to pursue those criminals who think stealing from the public is a legitimate way to do business. If you know of anyone committing VAT fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
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