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Ex-council worker jailed for fraud

Press Release   •   Nov 14, 2016 16:37 GMT

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An ex-council employee, who faked building works to steal almost £1 million, has been jailed for seven and half years after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Stephen Crewdson, 46, from Manchester, was convicted of fraud and money laundering after charging Lancashire County Council for bogus construction work over five years

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“As a council employee, Crewdson was in a privileged position approving supplier’s invoices. He abused this position of trust and was well aware that he was breaking the law. He made a deliberate attack on council funds at the expense of UK taxpayers.

“HMRC is committed to tackling fraud and abuse of the tax system wherever it occurs. If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Crewdson arranged for building suppliers to bill the council for work that never existed. Money paid to the builders was then laundered through various bank accounts back to Crewdson.

In 2011, when HMRC investigators began to check suspicious transactions, Crewdson created his own fake business, BBM, registered it for VAT via an accountant and attempted to justify further fake invoices and fraudulent VAT returns to disguise his crimes.

On 11 November 2016, at Preston Crown Court, Crewdson was jailed for seven and a half years.

His Honour Judge Knowles QC said as he jailed Crewdson:

“You have been convicted on most overwhelming evidence and your brazen lies. You were in breach of trust at LCC and of the public of Lancashire. You have used two local businesses, generated bogus invoices and tried to cover your tracks. The people of this county, taxpayers, are your victims and all to satisfy your greed.”

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said:

"We are pleased with the verdict and that this matter has been resolved. The county council takes fraud extremely seriously and we have worked closely with the police and HMRC to help bring this successful prosecution."

Crewdson will now face legal action to recover the stolen money.

Notes for editors

1.Stephen Crewdson, DOB 10/01/70, of Ducie Street, Manchester, previously employed by Lancashire County Council was found guilty of fraud and money laundering on 11 November 2016 at Preston Crown Court. HMRC found Crewdson had stolen almost £1 million between July 2007 and December 2012. He had arranged for two suppliers to submit false invoices to the council so that he could steal council funds disguising it as VAT charges. In 2011, he also created a fake VAT-registered company, BBM ENG Ltd, in an attempt to hide the fraud from his employers and HMRC. Crewdson received a total of £873,158.40 into his personal bank account and his BBM business bank account, which originated from the council and was laundered through various accounts to evade detection.

2.Crewdson was found guilty of two counts of acquiring criminal property contrary to Section 329(1)(a) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (money laundering) and two counts of fraud contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006.

3.Anyone with information regarding fraud is encouraged to contact the 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online via: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm

4.Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

5.HMRC's Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

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.