Luton Crown Court heard how business adviser Gerald Davies was found out after an investigation by Central Bedfordshire Council’s trading standards team.
Davies, of Stevenage, admitted offences under the Fraud Act for dishonestly making false representations and making and supplying articles for use in fraud.
He was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,122.
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The court was told Davies had voluntarily repaid £12,000 to the victim prior to sentencing and had also provided a written undertaking to the court that he will repay the remaining amount within 14 days.
The victim initially approached Davies in November 2017 to arrange payments of VAT to HMRC. Davies agreed to help.
He claimed to have paid the outstanding VAT in full, with the victim then paying him back in instalments.
After a number of payments were made to Davies, the victim discovered that HMRC had not received any money towards the VAT bill.
Then, to cover up his actions, Davies blamed former employees while also claiming he had been liaising with an HMRC Inspector. An individual who did not actually exist.
Davies even produced emails, apparently from HMRC, to prove that payments had been made. The emails turned out to be bogus. Fabricated in an attempt to try and convince the victim into believing it was HMRC at fault.