Self-employed industrial cleaner Andrew Fellows ‘cleaned up’ with a scam that cost the tax man thousands of pounds.
Falkirk Sheriff Court heard last Thursday the 37-year-old who worked for various companies was involved in a “highly sophisticated scheme” to defraud HM Revenue and Customs.
Sheriff Derek Livingston stopped short of sending him to jail for the fraud between December 2013 and August 2014, but imposed 300 hours unpaid work, the maximum allowed before custody is inevitable, as part of a community payback order.
He told Fellows, from 49 Glenbervie Road, Grangemouth: “I’m taking into account you are a first offender.”
The sheriff gave him nine months to complete the work and said it would be a case of Fellows and the Revenue agreeing how it gets its money back.
Fellows admitted being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax by submitting online tax returns which were false and led to HMRC paying him back £15,000.
Procurator fiscal Graham McLachlan said: “He was registered as self employed, but given cash at one point for his services.
“He thought he was on staff and subject to PAYE, however he then became involved in a highly sophisticated scheme which involved overstating his earnings and amount of tax he was paying.
“Eventually HMRC got round to looking at his tax returns in detail. They contacted him and he made some admissions and gave an explanation.”
Defence lawyer Willie McIntyre said: “There were a huge amount of records to go through and there were lengthy interviews.
“He had been refunded by HMRC as a result of his claims he had paid too much tax. He exaggerated the figures.”
The court was told that Fellows had been working since leaving school, but was currently unemployed.
Mr McIntyre said Fellows had “gambled away” all the refunds he had received.