Investigators found ringleaders Mark Thorpe, 39, of Inland Road, Erdington, Birmingham, and Aaron Hayers, 35, of Swan Street, Netherton in Dudley, recruited workmates to carry out the fraud and took a percentage of their claims.
Each gang member registered separately to do their Self Assessment returns online and made multiple amendments, each time increasing the amount they had overpaid to claim larger repayments.
Officers rumbled the men after similarities were noticed across the tax returns, such as all using the same employment details.
Money for three recipients was paid into a bank account of an associate of Thorpe’s, who received a payment of more than £20,000 into a bank account. A further payment of £32,705 was requested, but withheld by HMRC.
A total of £172,441 was paid out to the individuals, and further payments of £118,622 were withheld by HMRC.
Paul Fisher, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Services, HMRC, said:
“Thorpe and Hayers led this gang in a relentless and sustained attack on the tax system. HMRC stopped their attempt to steal thousands more from the public purse, but they are now facing over five years in jail.
“Anyone with information about people who may be involved in tax fraud can contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Thorpe was sentenced to a 32-month custodial sentence at Birmingham Crown Court on March 2, after he admitted the frauds.
Hayers was handed a 36-month custodial sentence after admitting guilt at the same court last September.
Six of the remaining gang members were also convicted of submitting fraudulent returns:
- Paul Hayers (brother of Aaron), 35, sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
- Wayne Garratt, 46, sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
- Colin Wakeman, sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
- James Cowley, 28, sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years.
- John Gilligan, 30, sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
- Bernard Richardson, 44, sentenced to ten months in prison, suspended for two years.
Confiscation proceedings to recover their criminal profits are ongoing.
Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.