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A Dorset luxury watch retailer who used fake invoices to steal £271,000 in fraudulent VAT repayments has been jailed.
49-year-old Mark Nicholas Gibson, who bought and sold luxury high-value watches such as Rolex and Cartier from his former home in Ferndown, used falsified invoices to reclaim VAT from HM Revenue & Customs.
Many of the expensive watches he submitted VAT repayments for had never been purchased, so he wasn’t entitled to a VAT refund.
HMRC began their investigation after Gibson’s name was linked to a similar VAT fraud uncovered in London.
David Margree, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said:
“Gibson had traded legitimately, but greed led him to commit fraud.
"Those criminals who think that this type of crime doesn’t harm anyone should think again. Our message is clear - it is simply not acceptable to steal from the tax system and, ultimately, every honest taxpayer in the UK.
“Anyone with information about VAT fraud should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Despite the size of the fraud, when arrested in May 2012 Gibson was living in a rented home near Blandford Forum and was strapped for cash.
He pleaded not guilty to cheating the public revenue of £271,023 in VAT, but was found guilty by a jury at Bournemouth Crown Court on 17 December 2012. Gibson was jailed for two years and nine months on 21 January 2013.
Upon sentencing, His Honour Judge Johnson said:
“It was a sophisticated professionally planned fraud, executed over a period of time.”