Jail for gambling addict after £77k VAT fraud

A woman with an online gambling addiction who defrauded her husband’s plastering firm out of £77,000 using fake invoices has been jailed for 20 months

Pauline Leeming was a director at Paul Smith Plasterers in Leeds where she submitted 291 false invoices over a 16-month period. 

Between February 2016 and June 2017, she altered purchase invoices and created fictitious ones, leaving the firm with a £77,000 VAT liability.

In July 2017, her husband Roy, who was also a director at the firm, discovered she had been stealing in order to fund her gambling habit.

At Bradford Crown Court Pauline Leeming pleaded guilty to a VAT fraud offence, but the court heard a decision had been taken not to prosecute her for theft from the firm.

The court was told that Pauline Leeming had begun gambling with small amounts that she took out personal loans to cover. But when the debts mounted up, she began ‘careful financial manipulation of the company’s accounts’.

Handing down a 20-month prison sentence, Judge Jonathan Rose told her: ‘It is accepted by all it is your gambling addiction that drove you to this offending. However, your offending represents a gross breach of trust.

‘You allowed this to continue and escalate and it was over a protracted period of time and it would have continued had you not been found out when accountants investigated more closely.’

The company will be required to repay the £77,000 VAT to HMRC.

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