A fraudster and former company director has been 27 months imprisonment after being found guilty of trying to steal over £200,000 in VAT.

Mike East – who was formerly known as Michael David Bull – has been exposed by HMRC after submitting a number of suspicious repayment claims back in 2013 and 2014.

An HMRC investigation found that East had worked with two accomplices – Paula Wilkes, and Jake Hilton Reeves – to submit fake invoices in return for a share of East’s stolen VAT.

The investigation uncovered a vast amount of false documentation and deception across four businesses linked to East. He and his two accomplices, the HMRC investigation found, provided false invoices for goods and services that simply did not exist.

“These three criminals were attempting to steal a substantial sum of money from taxpayers,” said Richard Young, the assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service. “East provided dozens of fake documents to convince HMRC he was genuinely trading under several guises – none of which was true. Wilkes and Reeves were fully involved in the fraud and took payments for their participation. HMRC is determined to clamp down on financial crime and make sure that there is a level playing field for all businesses.”

While we are sure all our readers are honest and genuine sorts, this example does show the attention HMRC pays to any misdemeanour or irregularity in the tax return process.