A West Yorkshire woman, who funded a celebrity lifestyle with the proceeds of a £144,000 VAT fraud, has been jailed after a tax investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.
Katherine Louise Devlin, aged 28 from Oxenhope in West Yorkshire, travelled the world and enjoyed lavish shopping sprees and beauty treatments – after creating fake invoices to reclaim VAT she wasn’t entitled to.
Devlin owned Strictly Gifted Limited, Strictly Gifted Recruitment Limited, and Strictly Gifted Business Supplies Limited. She made false VAT repayment claims by creating fake invoices and altering paperwork.
The tax inspectors began to investigate Devlin’s VAT repayments claims after £144,865 was paid out and further claims totalling £43,228 were stopped prior to payment. The tax officers found that she had been altering invoices from companies with whom she had done business; inflating the VAT amounts in order to submit higher repayment claims. In some cases, she had simply made up invoices as many of the companies had never heard of Devlin or her businesses. Following her arrest in December 2012 she was charged with two counts of VAT fraud and one count of Money Laundering. She pleaded guilty at Bradford Crown Court on 9 August 2013 and was sentenced 30 august to 15 months in jail: 15 months and three months respectively for the two counts of VAT fraud; and six months for money laundering. The sentences will run concurrently.
HMRC’s Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, said: “Devlin used her businesses to make fraudulent claims for VAT repayments, which she then had paid into her personal bank account. She used the cash to fund a lifestyle where she could enjoy luxury breaks, extravagant beauty treatments and almost daily shopping sprees, buying clothing and jewellery, all at the expense of the taxpayer. She is no longer reaping the benefits of her criminal activities”.
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