Mark Esdaile, of Rosa Street, South Shields, who has more than eight year’s accountancy experience and studied VAT for three years, was given a 22 month prison sentence after handing himself in to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in September 2016.
The 35-year-old claimed to be a gas and electricity adviser for his business Contact Me Solutions. But the business was a sham, set up solely so that he could submit false VAT returns to get repayments he was not entitled to.
The three-year fraud came to an end when Esdaile had his solicitor arrange a meeting with HMRC so he could confess his crime.
Esdaile has twice been convicted of stealing from his employers. He was handed a three month suspended sentence and 240 hours unpaid work for pilfering £2,000 from a company bank account in October 2011.
Cheryl Burr, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“As an accountant Esdaile was in a position of trust, but he used his knowledge of the tax system to steal from honest and hardworking taxpayers. This isn’t the first time he has stolen money to fund his addictions and now he is paying the price behind bars.
“HMRC will continue to protect legitimate traders by taking action against those who steal from the public purse. If you know of anyone committing VAT fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Esdaile pocketed £76,117 in fraudulent VAT repayments. A further £6,607.80 was held by HMRC.
Esdaile admitted VAT fraud at Newcastle Crown Court on 2 May 2017, and was sentenced to 22 months in prison at the same court on 6 July 2017, by His Honour Judge Spragg.