Rebecca Leigh Gray, 32, worked as a customer advisor at HMRC’s Merry Hill for nearly eight years, advising members of the public on their tax credits claims. She was arrested in March 2016 and immediately suspended.
HMRC investigators discovered that instead of being a single mum living at an address in Wolverhampton as she claimed, she had been living in Dudley with her partner between July 2014 and April 2016. Investigators found that Gray had also overstated costs of childcare for seven years as well as under-declaring her household income and lying about the amount of Maternity Pay she had received, all to increase her Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit payments. In total she claimed £56,344.10 she wasn’t entitled to.
Joff Parsons, Assistant Director, Internal Governance, HMRC, said:
“Gray’s role was to advise others on claiming tax credits and safeguard taxpayers’ money. But she abused her position of trust and took full advantage of the knowledge she had gained through her job, effectively stealing from the people she was employed to help. She knew that she was committing fraud and when caught, would lose her job and face a criminal conviction, but continued nonetheless.
“HMRC is committed to the highest level of integrity and we take the strongest possible action against the tiny minority who let us all down by falling short of those standards. If you know of anyone committing tax fraud please call our hotline on 0800 788 887 and report it.”
Gray admitted to fraudulently claiming tax credits at Walsall Magistrates Court in March 2017. She was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday (29 June 2017).
His Honour Judge N Syfret QC commented: “You behaved despicably due to the length of time of the fraud, the four separate ways you conducted your crime and were in a unique position given your employment with HMRC.”
Confiscation proceedings to recover the proceeds of her crime will follow.