David Cooper, 54, of Park Farm Villas, Blyth, claimed to have spent £1,106,493 on fuel and vehicles for his Newcastle upon Tyne business, CFM Transport Ltd, between January 2015 and April 2016.
However, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found the claims were false and Cooper produced 46 phoney invoices, using hijacked company details, to support his VAT returns.
Cooper received repayments totalling £148,227.74, which he was not entitled to and said he used the money to protect his business from collapse.
Cheryl Burr, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Cooper sought to cheat the system and harm honest, hardworking businesses that play by the rules. He was foolish to think stealing taxpayer’s money was the way to save his business and now he is paying the price.
“HMRC will continue to protect legitimate traders, ensuring that those who try to steal from the public face prosecution. If you know of anyone committing VAT fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Cooper admitted VAT fraud and creating false invoices at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court on 18 May 2017.
He was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years, at Newcastle Crown Court on 15 June 2017.