Andrea Vaughan-Owen, 42, and her younger sister Roberta-Owen, 37, have been jailed for three and a half years after fraudulently trying to claim £161m in VAT from HMRC that they had never paid…
Andrea Vaughan-Owen, a former post office worker and Roberta Vaughan-Owen, a former civil worker for the North Wales Police, managed to fund a lavish lifestyle of expensive homes and luxury cars by cheating honest UK taxpayers out of £130,000 in tax credits and incapacity benefit.
Sentenced after a three week trial at Caernarfon Crown court Wales, the duo were described in court as more of a ‘Laurel & Hardy’ double act than ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.
Upon their sentencing Andrea is said to have wept whilst her sister Roberta remained expressionless.
Born in the respected Welsh town of Caernarfon their mother ran a fish and chip shop whilst their father owned a chain of grocery stores.
From April 2003 to July 2008 that the Vaughan-Owen sisters cheated £120,000 in tax credits by fraudulently claiming they worked 16 hours a week for their recruitment firm, Owen and Owen Recruitment Ltd, whilst remaining jobless and claiming elsewhere for £10,000 incapacity benefit as they were ‘too ill’ too work.
After HMRC began investigating the 2006 tax credits scam the sisters devised another way to cheat the Revenue out of money. They thought that if they were able to set up companies, register them for VAT and then obtain invoices for expensive properties and cars that they could claim back a large VAT refund.
The sisters enquired about Land Rovers and a Rolls Royce Phantom worth over £300,000 as well as a £3.5m country house, but after being denied invoices and credit from banks and car dealerships the sisters filed a VAT rebate for a fictitious £920m advertising scheme at Liverpool FC.
In December 2008 the Vaughen-Owen sisters contacted Liverpool FC to enquire about the cost of advertising their recruitment company, Owen and Owen Recruitment Ltd., on electronic advertising boards surrounding the pitch at the Anfield stadium.
The extravagant VAT claim triggered suspicion at HMRC and tax officials began to investigate the claim.
Denying the claims in court both Vaughen-Owen sisters said that they had simply misunderstood the forms. Andrea went further to place the blame on her sister Roberta by stating that she did not do any of the word processing as extreme amounts of static electricity in her body prevented her from using the family computer.
Judge Niclas Parry said at the sister’s sentencing in Caernarfon Crown court:
“Seldom can so much valuable court time have been wasted at enormous public expense in pursuit of such a hopeless defence.
“On overwhelming evidence the jury has seen you for what you are: serial fraudsters, shameless liars, manipulative and calculating. You lived a lavish, greedy lifestyle at the expense of people who face real hardship.
“The claims were fraudulent from the outset and went on for a lengthy period. While some may regard this attempt as laughable it is a very serious offence,” he added.
Andrea Vaughan-Owen was convicted on eight counts of fraud and her sister Roberta Vaughan-Owen was found guilty of five counts of fraud.
Kevin Kinsella Jnr, of KinsellaTax, said:
“A pathetic attempt to obtain a large refund that did not have an iota of a chance of success.”
VAT fraud tax enquiries are serious and anyone undergoing a VAT Fraud investigation by HMRC should have strong and reliable representation from the outset.
If you think HMRC suspect you of any kind of tax fraud or VAT fraud, or you have already received that dreaded tax enquiry letter from HMRC. You need to contact a tax enquiry expert IMMEDIATELY.