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Fake tax agent companies filed 500 false returns a week

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A man who set up more than 50 fake tax agent companies to commit a £1m tax fraud has been jailed for two years.

Lawrence GoldbergLawrence Goldberg (pictured), 47, of Johannesburg, South Africa, pleaded guilty to conspiring to cheat the revenue, HMRC said. He set up more than 50 companies at ‘virtual offices’ throughout the UK, hijacked identities and invented other people using their details to file thousands of fraudulent returns.

‘At the height of his criminal operations, Goldberg was sending in around 500 false tax returns a week to claim millions of pounds in fraudulent repayments. Goldberg cleaned his criminal cash by transferring it to offshore accounts. HMRC investigators prevented around £4m being paid out fraudulently and identified over 2,000 false tax returns and 51 bogus tax agents.'

Goldberg originally ran the fraud from West London but transferred the operation to Portugal before ‘going on the run’ to South Africa. He was extradited in April this year.

John Pointing, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: ‘This was fraud against public funds on a huge scale. HMRC will not stand by while crooks like Goldberg steal money paid by honest taxpayers that is needed for vital services in our communities.’