Ex-cop jailed for £330m VAT fraud

A KIVETON man has been jailed for more than ten years for his part in an attempted £330 million VAT fraud - the largest of its kind in the UK.

Tuesday, 22nd November 2011, 1:52 pm

Nigel Cranswick, 47, served as a police officer for South Yorkshire Police between 1997 and 2005 when he set up Idea 2 Go Ltd at The Dinnington Business Centre.

He used the business as the front for his VAT scam by claiming that the business had sold more than six million mobile phones and had a turnover of more than £2.4 billion in just eight months.

He and five other used details from hijacked or fictitious companies to produce thousands of invoices for sales of mobile phones and computer software, producing billion of pounds in fabricated turnover, which generated around £330million in fraudulent VAT repayments.

Cranswick - the ringleader - and his gang invented more than 6,000 fake business transactions in an attempt to make the repayments appear legitimate.

But the scam was identified by HM Revenue & Customs officials who noticed alleged sales for more than 50,000 mobile phones which had not been manufactured at that point.

Cranswick, of Danby Road, Kiveton, quit his job as a serving policeman and began splashing out on extravagant purchases, 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.

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

Cranswick admitted conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and was sentenced to ten years and three months imprisonment.

HMRC assistant director for Criminal Investigation Paul Rooney said: “As a police officer Cranswick knew full well that he was breaking the law, yet; motivated by greed, he chose to overlook it for the opportunity of making what he wrongly assumed would be easy money. He now has to pay a very high price for his poor judgement and lack of integrity.”

“This was a sophisticated fraud designed to steal hundreds of millions of pounds of tax, but it started to unravel when our investigations identified sales for more than 50,000 mobile phones, which the manufacturers hadn’t even begun producing in their factories.”

Sentencing the gang at Newcastle Crown Court Judge Brian Forster said: “This was an unprecedented attack on the public revenue.”

“The figures in this case were astonishing and revealed the blatant nature of the fraud.”

“The companies persisted in dishonest trading despite numerous warnings from HMRC. The purpose of today’s sentences were to punish and to deter others from acting in the same way.”

Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke said: “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.”

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