Fraudster plasterers jailed for £300,000 scam

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Two Co Down men who used a total of 747 fake invoices to steal nearly £300,000 in fraudulent VAT claims have been jailed.

The pair were handed sentences of 18 months in prison followed by two years of probation.

Robert Martin Milligan, 42 and from Sydney Lane in Portavogie, and Gary Smyth, 36 and from The Gables in Portaferry, were directors of R&G Plastering Ltd.

They were interviewed in March 2014 following an HMRC investigation.

Between 2008 and 2012, the men had submitted the invoices claiming to have bought building supplies and materials.

However, the invoices were false.

In a statement, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation Mike Parkinson said: “Milligan and Smyth deliberately set out to create a false paper trail to claim money they weren’t entitled to.

“They used fake invoices in an attempt to make the claims look real, but hadn’t banked on our investigators uncovering their crime.

“Tax fraud isn’t a victimless crime; it is theft. These men knew they were breaking the law by stealing money that should have been funding public services, yet chose to overlook it to line their own pockets.”