Fraudster weeps as he is jailed for £40,000 VAT scam

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A South Yorkshire fraudster was led to jail in tears after being sentenced for claiming almost £40,000 in fake VAT returns for a sham company he set up.

Peter Ericsson, who is originally from Finland, created a company called Two Way Radio Ltd in 2007.

He named his wife and daughter as directors, as well as inventing two further board members he called John Taylor and David Smith.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that over the course of more than seven years, Ericsson claimed for VAT returns worth £38,741.78 – despite his sham company doing no business and having no real incomings or outgoings.

Ericsson was sentenced to 16 months in jail after previously pleading guilty to seven counts of dishonestly making false representations to make a gain for himself.

The smartly-dressed 62-year-old appeared anxious and upset throughout the hearing and broke down in tears in the dock as he was sentenced.

Ericsson, of Poplar Grove, Lundwood, Barnsley, was finally caught out last year when HM Revenue and Customs officers asked to inspect his accounts and resulting in a tax agency finding there were no records to examine.

James Baird, prosecuting, said some of the money was used to help his daughter move to America.

Richard Veni, defending Ericsson, said his client was a man of previously good character and started the company with an initial intention to run it as a legitimate business.

He added: “The offending was to save face from the shame of his family having lost his job, lost his house and lost his ability to provide for them.

“He became to some extent trapped in the lie and perhaps not brave enough to face the situation.”

Mr Veni said his client had ‘full remorse’ for what he had done.

Sentencing, Judge Mark Gargan told Ericsson: “Just over eight years ago, you could count yourself as a man of good character.

“No doubt you were seen by your friends and neighbours as a success.

“But it is you and you alone who has thrown that away.

“It is difficult to know what possessed you but whatever it was you established this company with false directors and then went ahead submitting numerous false returns.

“This was not merely adding a few pounds here or there or even a few thousand pounds to legitimate claims.

“The entire trading history was completely false.”

Judge Gargan said the scam had been sophisticated, involved significant planning and taken place over a long period.

He said the sentence would have been one of two years in jail but it was reduced to 16 months due to his guilty pleas.