Fake horse trader jailed for three years after pretending he had terminal cancer to avoid £280,000 tax probe
A CONMAN who pretended to have cancer to avoid a £280,000 tax probe has been jailed for nearly three years.
Lying Christopher Stone, 35, claimed he couldn’t meet tax inspectors because he was terminally ill and going to America for treatment.
But when HM Revenue and Customs officers checked with the US embassy they discovered his deception.
Paul Barton, assistant director of fraud investigations at 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.
This was a despicable attempt to avoid justice by a crook desperate to save his own skin
“HMRC will continue to pursue those criminals who think stealing from the public is a legitimate way to do business.”
Phoney horse trader Stone, of Harrogate, North Yorks, claimed to have spent £1.4million on horses, riding equipment and vet bills to generate VAT repayments for Otley-based SS Equestrian.
But the business was a sham which allowed him to steal hundreds of thousands from the taxpayer.
The phoney horse trader pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue at Isleworth Crown Court[/caption]
His three-year fraud was uncovered when checks with Stone’s alleged suppliers revealed invoices used to support the VAT refund claims were fake.
Bank statements provided to HMRC were doctored to include bogus sales and purchases.
Investigators concluded SS Equestrian had not engaged in any legitimate trade and was established purely to steal VAT, totalling £272,288.62 between 2011 and 2014.
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A further claim for £8,763.11 was withheld.
Stone was arrested at his then-home in Uxbridge, West London, in October 2015, and refused to answer any questions relating to the fraud.
The fraudster pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue at Isleworth Crown Court on March 3 and was sentenced to 33 months in prison at the same court yesterday by Judge Jonathan Ferris.