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Aberdeenshire farmer’s tax fraud foiled

Press Release   •   Dec 23, 2013 16:56 GMT

An Aberdeenshire farmer, who lied about the cost of her farm supplies to steal over £657,000 in fraudulent VAT claims, has been sentenced to 27 months after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).  

Ella May Thom, 49, from Banchory, attempted to justify the VAT repayments she claimed by inflating the cost of machinery, fertilisers and business charges. Thom pleaded guilty to submitting fraudulent VAT repayment claims for over six years.

Anne-Marie Gordon, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC in Scotland, said:

“Thom knew that she was breaking the law, yet chose to overlook it for the opportunity of making what she wrongly assumed would be easy money, at the expense of the UK taxpayer. She now has to pay a very high price for her criminal activities as well as repaying the money she stole. 

“Tax fraud is a serious offence and is treated as such by the justice system. I urge anyone with information about people or businesses involved in such fraud to contact HMRC’s Tax Evasion hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Tax fraud can also be reported online at

Notes for editors

1. Ella May Thom (27/02/1964), from Banchory in Aberdeenshire, pleaded guilty on 4 December 2013 to VAT fraud at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. She was sentenced today at the same court to 27 months imprisonment.  

2. During the period September 2004 to March 2011 the UK VAT loss was £657,932.01.     

3. HMRC launched a taskforce in October 2013, targeting tax cheats in Scotland who try to fraudulently reclaim VAT.

4. Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud.

5. HMRC has launched 57 taskforces since 2011. A further 16 are planned for 2013-14 and up to 30 for 2014-15.                                                                                                                                          

6. Follow us on Twitter @hmrcgovuk

7. HMRC’s Flickr channel 

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.