By Marcus Leach

A former policeman from South Yorkshire has been jailed for 10 years and three months today (Friday) for his part in an attempted £330 million VAT fraud - the largest of its kind in the UK.

He and five others were caught by investigators from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) after they claimed their new business, Ideas 2 Go Ltd, had sold more than six million mobile phones and had a turnover of more than £2.4 billion in just eight months.

Using details from hijacked or fictitious companies the gang produced thousands of invoices for sales of mobile phones and computer software, producing billions of pounds in fabricated turnover, which generated around £330 million in fraudulent VAT repayments. Cranswick and his gang invented over 6,000 fake business transactions in an attempt to make the repayments appear legitimate.

Ringleader Nigel Cranswick, 47, from Dinnington in South Yorkshire went from ‘rags to riches’ in a matter of weeks. Heavily in debt and only weeks into his new business venture, he quit his job as a serving policeman and began splashing out on extravagant purchases. He made lavish improvements to his home, rented a luxury apartment in the Spanish town of Marbella and paid for private schooling and tennis lessons for his children.

Cranswick claimed that in the first six weeks of trading Ideas 2 Go had turned over more than £527million. The company had traded over £47million before they even got round to opening a bank account for the business.

“This Government will not tolerate dishonest people stealing public money. This sentence shows that those who try to commit fraud need to think again — HMRC will find you and the courts will punish you," Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke said.

“The additional £917m we have invested in HMRC will see more cases like this successfully prosecuted, sending a clear and powerful message.”

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