31 Jan 2019
A Louis Vuitton sales assistant at Selfridges, Manchester, has been jailed for two years and six months over her role in a scheme which involved using the stolen details of unsuspecting customers to make fake VAT claims and cash in on the refunds.
The Salford-based woman copied the passport details from legitimate tax reclaim forms of international travellers and used them on fake claims, which she and her two sisters would post at Manchester Airport, according to HMRC. Her sisters worked at a duty-free shop in the airport.
The sales assistant used the identities to complete fake claim forms for non-existent purchases of luxury bags, shoes and wallets worth thousands of pounds.
The claims were then posted at a Manchester Airport dropbox by the trio, and were repaid £239,794 between June 2016 and February 2017. The sisters also attempted to claim a further £83,455.
Various family members’ bank details were put on the forms so the repayments were paid to them.
“UK Border Force, which manages the scheme, became suspicious when repeated claims were made with the same bank account numbers but with different names and passport details. The case was then passed on to HMRC for investigation,” the tax authority explained.
“This was a careful and calculated attempt to steal from the public purse,” said Paul Maybury of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, “VAT fraud takes funding from our public services. The money stolen by the sisters could have been used to pay for the salaries of 14 qualified nurses for a year.”
KYC360 contancted Louis Vuitton for a comment but the firm did not respond by press time.
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