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Flying tax fraudster grounded

Press Release   •   Feb 16, 2018 16:49 GMT

Keiran Farrer

A serial fraudster, who lied about his disability and stole more than £280,000 VAT and benefits to pay for flying lessons, has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found Keiran Farrer, of Whinsmoor Drive, Carlisle, set up a sham business and stole VAT, which he spent on acquiring his private pilot’s licence.

The 39-year-old also told DWP he suffered from mental health problems and had difficulty walking more than 1.5 metres. In reality he was enjoying a life of leisure spending money on flying lessons and ten pin bowling.

Farrer, who was a director of The Solway Aviation Society, already had 22 criminal convictions and was serving a suspended prison sentence at the time he was defrauding HMRC and DWP.

Paul Maybury, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Farrer’s level of dishonesty is truly shocking and inexcusable. He thought theft and fraud was an acceptable way of life despite his numerous convictions. Now his incessant deceit has landed him behind bars.

“We will continue to work with other law enforcement partners, where appropriate, to pursue criminals like Farrer who think they can steal money that should be used to fund our public services. If you know of anyone committing VAT fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Farrer told HMRC he’d set up a car hire and leasing business and spent more than £2m on vehicles and business supplies for the company. He submitted monthly VAT returns for three years claiming £260,364 in repayments.

In reality, the business was a sham and checks revealed no vehicles were ever purchased and Farrer pocketed the VAT repayments, which he was not entitled to.

At the same time Farrer told DWP he had severe difficulty walking, had fits, dizzy spells and blackouts, and often needed to use a wheelchair or a Motability car. He received £41,095 in disability living allowance between 2010 and 2016.

But DWP discovered he spent more than £50,000 on flying lessons.

He was arrested by DWP for benefit fraud in 2016 and investigators obtained bank records, which exposed his fraudulent VAT repayments. The case was then jointly investigated with HMRC.

Farrer admitted VAT and benefits fraud at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court on 7 December 2017 and was sentenced to four years and six months in prison at Carlisle Crown Court today, 16 February 2018, by His Honour Judge Peter Hughes QC.

Notes to Editors

1. Keiran Farrer, DOB 13/01/1979, of Whinsmoor Drive, Carlisle was charged with:

  • VAT - knowingly concerned in fraudulent evasion (01/10/2013 - 31/07/2016) - on or between 01/10/2013 and 31/07/2016, were knowingly concerned in, or in the taking of steps with a view to, the fraudulent evasion of Value Added Tax, namely submitting monthly VAT returns to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs on behalf of a business called Move Leasing North East in which you inflated the amount of purchases made by the said business, thereby claiming VAT repayments from HMRC to which you knew you were not entitled.
  • Dishonestly make a false statement to obtain a benefit / advantage / payment (23/02/2010) - on or about 23/02/2010, with a view to obtaining Disability Living Allowance for yourself, dishonestly made a false representation to the Department for Work and Pensions on a DLA claim form, namely that you exaggerated the extent of your mobility restrictions and care needs.
  • Dishonestly make a false statement to obtain a benefit / advantage / payment (18/11/2013) - on or about 18/11/2013, with a view to obtaining Disability Living Allowance for yourself, dishonestly made a false representation to the Department for Work and Pensions on a DLA review form, namely that you exaggerated the extent of your mobility restrictions and care needs.

2. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice.

3. 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.