A former St Austell tax office worker who stole over £93,000 in tax credit payments was jailed for 18 months today at Truro Crown Court.
Tracey Oakley, 43, fraudulently claimed tax credits saying she was single when she lived with her husband. She also lied by inflating the true cost of childcare, including making claims for three years when none was provided.
The fraud was uncovered by HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Tax Credit Office and referred for criminal investigation.
Joff Parsons, Assistant Director, HMRC Internal Governance Criminal Investigations, said:
“Oakley stole from her employer and the wider public. She has lost her job and reputation, and gained a prison sentence. HMRC investigates any suspicion of wrongdoing and our internal security systems led to this successful prosecution.”
When challenged for evidence of her claims, in an attempt to hide her deception, Oakley provided false consecutively numbered handwritten invoices and a fake childcare contract.
The childcare receipts showed payments were made in cash, but this was not supported by Oakley’s bank statements. She claimed childcare costs of around £280 a week. The fraud took place between November 2006 and September 2012.
Oakley pleaded guilty at Truro Crown Court on 11 October 2013 and was jailed for 18 months (nine months for each offence to run consecutively) on 8 November 2013.
Notes for editors
1. Tracey OAKLEY (29/11/69) of Trethosa Road, St Stephen, St Austell, Cornwall, a former officer of HM Revenue and Customs.
2. The HMRC investigation began in February 2012. Oakley was arrested on 26 September 2012. She pleaded guilty at Truro Crown Court on 11 October 2013 to:
· Being knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity undertaken with a view to obtaining payments of a tax credit contrary to Section 35 of the Tax Credits Act 2002.
· Perverting the course of justice contrary to common law (submitting fraudulent receipts and a false childcare contract).
3. Oakley claimed tax credits as a single person from November 2006 to the date she was arrested. Evidence showed she lived with her husband throughout this period. No childcare had been provided for the last three years of the claim, from September 2009. The total fraud is £93,741.
4. Oakley’s employment with HMRC ended in April 2013.
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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.