Each year some £11.5bn worth of value added tax (VAT) is lost to the state. The vast majority of that revenue the Exchequer could sorely do with is lost to deliberate theft - from self-employed business people who fail to register for VAT to sophisticated 'carousel' fraudsters moving goods among networks of fake companies in a core process of serious organised crime.
Until recently VAT staff trying to deal with this criminality relied on little more than the Yellow Pages and a link to Land Registry files to detect people making false claims, failing to register or withholding VAT they had collected. Finally, that's changed. And a key element in improved efforts to cut fraudulent claims is a new system called Connect, running internally at HMRC since 2008.