A former UK tax and customs inspector (HMRC) for VAT from Ayrshire has been jailed for tax fraud worth £ 171,000 involving the use of a deceased person’s identity.
66-year-old James McGee made false claims to pay VAT, using the abducted person to hide his fraud.
But he failed to get away with it, as a joint investigation by the HMRC and the National Crime Agency (NCA) thwarted his plans.
When he was arrested in 2013 on charges of fraud as part of an NCA investigation (from which he was later removed), police searched his home and found that McGee had two bank cards in the name of the deceased. One of the accounts was opened after the man’s death, and the other was credited with money obtained by fraud.
Officers who searched McGee’s home confiscated handwritten paper records containing details of several businesses registered for VAT. Experts have confirmed that the manuscript records correspond to McGee’s records in his old diaries and HMRC notebooks.
This sparked an HMRC investigation.
McGee, who left his post at the HMRC on VAT compliance in 2009, was sentenced today (May 16) to 30 months in prison after being found guilty after a trial in the Sheriff’s Court.
Lincy Thompson, chief operating officer of the Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “McGee used his knowledge of the VAT system to coordinate a scheme to steal from the public wallet – the money we need to fund services we need, such as hospitals and schools.
“It was a shameful way to act for a former 34-year-old employee, but this belief shows that no one is above the law.
“I urge anyone who has information about any type of tax fraud to report it gov.uk».
Rob Miles, NCA Scotland’s operations manager, said: “NCA investigators worked closely with our colleagues at HMRC to obtain evidence that was key to bringing McGee to justice.
“He used his experience and knowledge of the system to further commit the crime and probably thought it would help him avoid detection.
“We are working with law enforcement partners across Scotland to prevent organized crime and we are determined to fight fraud in all its forms.”
Laura Buchanan, the prosecutor for special cases, said: “James McGee and his associates used their knowledge of the system to steal significant sums and then tried to cover their tracks by laundering money.
“The interdepartmental investigation of their actions was long and difficult. This verdict completes this hard work and is a testament to the partnership between COPFS, HMRC and NCA. ”
During the interview, McGee insisted he was not responsible for any crimes, but he admitted to using the abducted person when calling the HMRC VAT hotline.
McGee, who previously worked at the HMRC offices in Airy and Paisley, insisted that the person whose identity he used was a genuine controlling mind of the criminal scheme. In fact McGee with the help of others was central to the fraud. The group fraudulently received money from HMRC, and the proceeds were laundered through accounts controlled by McGee and others.
A total of £ 101,443.14 was paid due to false VAT claims, and another £ 70,351 was withheld by HMRC. Others involved in the fraud: Mark Dryden, 37, of Riverview Gardens, Glasgow; Carly McGinley, 33, of Bress Avenue, Clydebank; and Gary Prentiss, 36, from Bouver Street, Glasgow, were all convicted in a Sheriff Ayr trial on February 7, 2022.
Dryden was jailed for 10 months, and Prentiss was ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work for 24 months and is subject to a four-month restraining order. McGinley was fined 1,120 pounds.
Confiscation proceedings are underway.