VAT fraud scam enabled couple to afford lavish £2m apartment in London Chelsea Harbour neighbouring Robbie Williams and Sir Michael Caine…
Emmanuel and Behnaz Scotts have been found guilty of VAT Fraud totalling £250,000, they also received the following:
£1,750 per year in child benefits that funded their daughter’s private schooling fees;
£64.50 claimed in jobseekers allowance per week; and
£2,670 in housing benefit a month from Hammersmith and Fulham council, which went towards 60% of their rent at £2m Chelsea Harbour apartment
Emmanuel Scott, 44, is a professional fraudster who has previously been convicted for similar offences to the mentioned VAT fraud scam in Switzerland, Sweden and the UK.
On top of claiming for the benefits listed above Emmanuel posed as a rich tourist whilst shopping in high-end, designer stores; to then claim tax back on expensive clothing items that had been returned.
Emmanuel bought expensive jewellery and accessories, including Chanel handbags, VAT-free, which he would return in a different store with the VAT-inclusive price (fraudulently gaining the extra VAT for himself).
Emmanuel Scotts has been jailed for four and a half years for the VAT fraud scam. Whilst his wife, Behnaz Scotts, 42, admitted to transferring £74,000 of profits to her bank account; for which she was excused a prison sentence.
Prosecuting at the case, Sarah Giddens, said:
“The UK retail export scheme is a scheme that allows a traveller to the UK who is not a resident of the UK or EU to purchase goods from participating retailers, inclusive of VAT, to claim back that VAT when they leave the EU.
“This is done using a reclaim form, called the VAT 407.
“This case is all about an abuse of the export system, at Chanel, a luxury boutique shop, selling high level items, often to wealthy visitors to the UK.
“In total they attempted to make a quarter of a million pounds in VAT refunds, but were actually paid £176,000.
“The Scotts used a system whereby they would make a purchase from one Chanel shop, and have it refunded at another.
“Emmanuel Scotts would often visit the shops, appeared friendly, well presented and would get to know the staff very well, who thought he was a rich foreign customer.
“He would then present them with a VAT 407 in respect of false invoices, which they would sign.”
33 false VAT refund claims were made by Emmanuel Scott in total on high end luxury accessories and handbags that placed £250,000 in the couples’ bank accounts, which were opened under false identities.
Bank accounts were set up in different names by changing both their names by Deed poll and using different email addresses.
Police also found information on Scott’s laptop including details of the design of rubber customs stamps, which were used to forge VAT-free retails forms.
Judge Richard McGregor-Johnson, who sentenced the VAT Fraud Scam couple, said:
“This was my judgement a pre-planned professional exercise. You established a rapport with members of staff at the stores in order to get them to sign them off.
“You then managed to fraudulently stamp these forms, in order to make a quarter of a million pounds from the taxpayer.
“You also committed this at a time when you were awaiting to be sentenced in an identical matter. ‘This offence therefore requires substantial time in custody’.
Whilst Emmanuel was jailed for four and a half years, his wife, Behnaz, was sentenced to 51 weeks and suspended for two years.
Scotts pleaded guilty to VAT fraud in court and pleaded guilty with his wife for transferring VAT fraud profits into different bank accounts, 75 in total.
Assistant Director for Criminal Investigation at HMRC, Martin Brown, said:
“The Scotts thought this fraud was too clever to fail. They passed themselves off as high rollers and spent large sums of criminal cash in expensive boutiques and at casinos.
“They had no idea that HMRC officers were one step ahead and ready to arrest them. Fraudsters should take this as a warning – we will find you and you will have your day in court.”
Are you currently under investigation by HMRC for suspicion of VAT Fraud?
This is a very serious matter and should not be dealt with on your own.
Kevin Kinsella Jnr, of KinsellaTax, said:
“It is shocking that this happened on our doorstep, in Chelsea Harbour, and they didn’t come to us.”
VAT Fraud enquiries and investigations by HMRC are very serious; if facing a VAT Fraud Investigation by HMRC then you should have strong, professional advice and representation from the outset.
KinsellaTax staff consists of ex-HM Inspector of Taxes and ex-HM Custom and Excise Officers, fully trained in all types of HMRC investigations.