A BUSINESSMAN who fraudulently over-claimed VAT repayments has been jailed for 12 months.

Christopher Vass, 59, of Woodfalls, owner of web design and computer businesses – Spiracle Data Systems Ltd and Hot Creative Media Ltd, inflated figures on his VAT returns between March 2011 and November 2014.

He submitted them to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to fraudulently reclaim £33,434 in VAT that he was not entitled to.

He also created false business records and invoices to support these VAT claims for the two businesses.

The fraud was discovered by HMRC’s VAT Repayment Taskforce and referred for criminal investigation.

Vass pleaded not guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT at Southampton Crown Court in June 2016.

But at a hearing on Monday (December 12) changed his plea to guilty and was jailed for 12 months.

HMRC says it will look to recover the money fraudulently obtained.

His Honour Judge Rowland, said: “This is a very serious matter, as the victims are all of us in society.”

Colin Spinks, the assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “HMRC will continue to target criminals such as Vass who attack the tax system for their own benefit.

"He stole from public services and would have continued his fraud had HMRC not stopped him through our taskforce investigations."

Anyone with information about tax fraud can report it to the 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.

  • HMRC says businesses of a similar name are not linked to this fraud.