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Former HMRC officer sentenced for tax fraud

29th May 2015
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A former HMRC tax officer who set up an online business trading games consoles, video games and DVDs has been sentenced for stealing more than £12,000 from the public purse.

Foster set up the business after he was sacked from a HMRC contact centre in Country Durham in 2009.

Neil James Foster fraudulently declared £31,000 in business losses which he used to claim income tax repayments of £12,319. Alongside his online business, Foster also worked for an energy company, earning a salary with tax deducted through PAYE.

Foster submitted self-assessment forms fraudulently showing his business had made financial losses. The alleged losses were offset against tax he had already paid through his employment with the energy company, and Foster and received the £12,000 in tax refunds.

Foster was sentenced to eight months in prison - suspended for 12 months - for his fraudulent pursuits. He was also ordered to pay £165 in costs at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court.

Diane Donnelly, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation, said in a statement, “As someone who used to work for HMRC, Foster knew that lying on his tax return, with the sole aim of lining his own pockets, was going to land him in court”.

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Replies (22)

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By Roland St Clere-Smithe
01st Jun 2015 12:40

The courts look after their own

If this had been benefit fraud the sentence would have been longer

and not suspended. Talk about "one law for some, another law for others".

.....

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By jackcorr
01st Jun 2015 13:13

The courts look after their own

Couldn't agree more!

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By hughjoyce
01st Jun 2015 12:57

Misleading title

On the original headline it said HMRC Agent. I therefore thought it was going to be an agent not an employee.

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Francois
By Francois Badenhorst
04th Jun 2015 15:47

Apologies

That's my bad, fixed as soon as I realised. 

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By Ted Numbers
08th Jun 2015 13:34

What?

FrancoisB wrote:

That's my bad, fixed as soon as I realised. 

 

What on earth are you on about?

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Francois
By Francois Badenhorst
08th Jun 2015 16:26

Was in reply

Was replying to an eagle eyed aweb-er that noticed an error in the headline. The comment was a mea culpa. 

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7om
By Tom 7000
01st Jun 2015 15:02

they are...

Always from Peterlee....

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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
01st Jun 2015 17:36

Another leech on the public purse gets off with no punishment. There was a benefit fraudster in Leicester recently given no jail time for £60k worth of cheating. Seriously starting to think crime is worth it.

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By Anthony.Evans82
02nd Jun 2015 11:27

But...

SJH-ADVDIPMA wrote:
Another leech on the public purse gets off with no punishment. There was a benefit fraudster in Leicester recently given no jail time for £60k worth of cheating. Seriously starting to think crime is worth it.

He will still be subject to a POCA application to recover the £12,000 so he is no better off for doing it and now has a criminal record to boot.
It does seem like a relatively meagre sum of money to go to such extremes for though, given the penalty upon getting caught.

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By taxbakbristol
02nd Jun 2015 02:19

Standards have slipped badly at HMRC

Was he working for HMRC when he was apprehended ? I have notices an alarming drop in honesty standards with HMRC Inspectors over the last 4 years. I suppose they want anyone now who can walk and talk at the same time as all the knowledge has dissipated that they had with th e old Inspectors.

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By AndrewV12
02nd Jun 2015 11:08

What a plonker

I think dear old Neil Foster, looked at tax avoidance schemes and thought aaahhh lets create some looses and off set them against my income.

 

He just never had the knowledge or ability of those who create complex tax avoidance schemes, not that they are the brightest.

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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
03rd Jun 2015 06:19

But...
He stole the cash to start with, so it's cash neutral, and unless he wanted to do something that required a criminal records bureau check, the record is not a hindrance, I've employed many accountants over the years and neither I nor my employer(HR)attempted to check their criminal record and I work for a large multi national, so it's not just bumpkin businesses that don't bother.

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By Anthony.Evans82
04th Jun 2015 16:03

@sjh-advdipma
No I take your point, although he would not legally be allowed to work within that field again, whether a CRB check was required or not given that this was an abuse of position.
The result of the POCA may be 'cash neural' but isn't that what is intended by law? Any litigation for compensatory amounts is only ever considered on the basis of loss and not to put the claimant in a better position. I think the fact the final position is neutral is almost irrelevant in so far as it is not designed to 'cost' the defendant money, but to recompense the victim.

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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
04th Jun 2015 16:27

worried
Someone somewhere has done the math and decided the cost of imprisoning (literally and then the aftermath) is not worth it. However slowly but surely folks are realising that certain crimes are not punishable with anything they could be frightened of and are taking the plunge. There is so much abuse out there it is frightening, especially in areas such as working off the books and housing benefit. Really people are now thinking you would have to be a mug not to do it. No doubt HMRC is aware, but target their guns elsewhere, but with tight household incomes PAYErs are feeling abused, and no jail time rubs their faces in it.

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By Roland St Clere-Smithe
05th Jun 2015 16:19

Really?

That he wasn't  jailed is nothing to do with the math.

Has this been benefit fraud , there would have been a custodial sentence

even if much less than £12k had been stolen.

The courts are to blame... judges who sympathise with tax evasion( they are upto their necks in it themselves) but would be horrified at "benefit fraud".

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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
06th Jun 2015 16:23

even benefits
Roland, you didn't see my earlier post, in recent weeks a lady in Leicester was not Jailed for £60k benefit fraud.

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By Anthony.Evans82
05th Jun 2015 16:20

I agree with what you are saying but...
I agree with what you are saying, truly I do. But if you consider what costs would have already been incurred by HMRC to bring this case to court, i.e. The costs of the HMRC's officer investigating the case, the cost of the police who would have been responsible for arresting and detaining the him, the costs of the court staff and magistrates and the prosecution at the point of reviewing the case to decide whether to charge him and finally their role in the court itself; then the c.£12,000 has probably already been absorbed. If you wanted to add to that the cost of improsonment and his post-release costs, then you are looking at significant amounts of money just to recover the lost amount. Commercially it does not make sense to pursue and punish to the extent you refer to.
Take the case of the Grant Thornton employee who was also recently convicted of fraud to the tune of £726k - she has been imprisoned, but at what cost to the country. Given this level of fraud she would have known the repercussions if she was caught (which luckily she was), but it did not deter her from her crime either. She may have got away with it had she not been quite so greedy too, which is more worrying than the fact she did it I think personally.
There must be a better way of punishing the individual which is cost effective and proportionate to the crime and I believe we are yet to find it. But the current draconian system is neither a deterrent not a resolution and whilst we continue to abide by this system I believe we will continue to see a rise in such financial crimes.

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By hughjoyce
05th Jun 2015 16:31

Benefit fraud? Rarely jailed here

Not sure if this varies by region but hardly ever see anyone in this area who is convicted of benefit fraud going to jail.

Stats would seem to bear this out.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2607590/Just-one-29-benefit-chea...

 

 

 

 

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By Anthony.Evans82
05th Jun 2015 16:57

Hughjoyce

hughjoyce wrote:

Not sure if this varies by region but hardly ever see anyone in this area who is convicted of benefit fraud going to jail.

Stats would seem to bear this out.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2607590/Just-one-29-benefit-chea...

 

 

 

 

I agree with you. There are very few cases of benefit fraudsters receiving jail time in this region either. But as I have said before, the cost outweighs the benefit and realistically there are not enough jail spaces in this country to physically allow this to happen - thank God because it is not doing anything to resolve the issue.

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By hughjoyce
05th Jun 2015 17:04

Just commenting back to Roland

as he seemed to say this would be custodial if benefit fraud. Not in my experience, but I am sure there are some isolated cases.

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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
06th Jun 2015 21:16

what punishment though??
Anthony, I have some sympathy with not just locking up people, and the ensuing negative effects on their lives for reasonably low level crime. However there is a law involved here, we know at zero punishment for wrong doing, wrong doing increases(think of the abuses that arise in war when soldiers think there are no consequences) , so in this case if its fully reported, punishment is objectively close to zero, £165 costs, and keep your nose clean for 12 months. What about community service or a fine or both? No doubt the guy will be relieved and pleased with the outcome, and again large part of onlookers incredulous. I suppose if VAT wasn't 20% and 40% tax band wasn't kicking in at early £40's I wouldn't mind so much the government turned the other cheek so often to scammers.

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By Roland St Clere-Smithe
09th Jun 2015 12:27

What about this then?
This sentence is typical response of vindictive magistrates.

 

  Hassocks man sent to prison for claiming housing benefits while living with mother

A Hove speed camera took a battering when a motorist crashed his car into it

 

 

17:05Thursday 04 June 2015

 

HAVE YOUR SAY 

A man has been sentenced to 24 weeks in prison for claiming housing benefit while living with his mother in Hassocks.

Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) said James Andrew Hall, 30, fraudulently claimed the benefit for a property at Ann Close four times between 2008 and 2013. Each time he claimed to be a lodger and said he was not related to his landlady.

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In November 2013, a MSDC benefits officer noticed an inconsistency in his documents. The Council investigated and proved his landlady was his mother.

 

He was not entitled to any of the £9,772 in benefits he was paid from July 2008 to October 2011.

 

He pleaded guilty to four charges of making false representations on benefit claim forms and on June 1, was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison for each offence, concurrently, and is required to repay the benefits.

“Benefit fraud takes money away from the claimants who genuinely need our help and support,” said Councillor Ash-Edwards, MSDC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Service Delivery.

“It’s a drain on honest, hardworking taxpayers and that’s why we have effective systems in place to catch the small minority who try to cheat the system.

“The length of sentence handed out by the Magistrates in this case should act as a clear warning to any potential cheats – committing benefit fraud is simply not worth the risk.”

 

 

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