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No benefit for high-life VAT fraudster

Press release -

No benefit for high-life VAT fraudster

A West Yorkshire woman, who funded a celebrity lifestyle with the proceeds of a £144,000 VAT fraud, has been jailed after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Katherine Louise Devlin, 28, from Oxenhope, West Yorkshire, travelled the world, enjoyed lavish shopping sprees and beauty treatments after creating fake invoices to reclaim VAT she wasn’t entitled to.

Devlin, who owned Strictly Gifted Limited, Strictly Gifted Recruitment Limited and Strictly Gifted Business Supplies Limited, made false VAT repayment claims by creating fake invoices and altering paperwork.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
“Devlin used her businesses to steal money by making fraudulent claims for VAT repayments, which she then had paid into her personal bank account. She used the cash to fund a lifestyle where she could enjoy luxury breaks, extravagant beauty treatments and almost daily shopping sprees, buying clothing and jewellery, all at the expense of the taxpayer. She is no longer reaping the benefits of her criminal activities.

“We hope that this case serves as a warning to others that VAT fraud and the laundering of criminal profit is an extremely serious offence. HMRC is committed to catching those businesses and individuals who make false claims and who attempt to defraud the government. If you have information about people involved in this type of crime you can report it by calling the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

HMRC began to investigate Devlin’s VAT repayments claims after £144,865 was paid out and further claims totalling £43,228 were stopped prior to payment.

Officers found that Devlin had been altering invoices from companies with whom she had done business, inflating the VAT amounts in order to submit higher repayment claims. In some cases, she had simply made up invoices as many of the companies had never heard of Devlin or her businesses.

Devlin was arrested in December 2012. During a search of her home, HMRC officers found a handwritten letter to a relative, which said that she had tried to run a legitimate business but had found no benefit in it.

She was later charged with two counts of VAT fraud and one count of Money Laundering and pleaded guilty at Bradford Crown Court on 9 August 2013.

In sentencing Devlin, His Honour Judge Benson said: “This was a serious and calculated crime that could not be overlooked.”

Notes for editors

1. Katherine Louise Devlin, (DOB 08/04/1985) of Wadsworth, Oxenhope, West Yorkshire.

2. Devlin was sentenced today (30 August 2013) at Bradford Crown Court to 15 months in jail. 15 months and three months for the two counts of VAT fraud, and six months for money laundering. The sentences will run concurrently.

3. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

4. A photo can be found on HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

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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.

Press contacts

HMRC Regional Senior Press Officer - East of England & South of England

Senior Press Officer 03000 589 546

HMRC Regional Press Officer - South West

Press Officer Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Devon, Cornwall, Bristol & Somerset 03000 518067

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.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
100 Parliament St
SW1A 2BQ London