Flying tax fraudster grounded

A serial fraudster, who carried out a £280,000 VAT and benefits fraud to pay for flying lessons, has been jailed for four-and-a-half years following an investigation by HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Keiran Farrer, from Carlisle, set up a company called Move Leasing North East, and told HMRC the car hire and leasing business had spent more than £2m on vehicles and business supplies. He submitted monthly VAT returns for three years claiming £260,364 in repayments.

In reality, the business was a sham and checks revealed no vehicles were ever purchased and Farrer pocketed the VAT repayments, which he was not entitled to.

At the same time Farrer told DWP he had severe difficulty walking, had fits, dizzy spells and blackouts, and often needed to use a wheelchair or a Motability car. He received £41,095 in disability living allowance between 2010 and 2016.

In reality he was enjoying a life of leisure spending over £50,000 on flying lessons, acquiring his private pilot’s licence, and ten pin bowling.

Farrer, who was a director of The Solway Aviation Society, already had 22 criminal convictions and was serving a suspended prison sentence at the time he was defrauding HMRC and DWP.

He was arrested by DWP for benefit fraud in 2016 and investigators obtained bank records, which exposed his fraudulent VAT repayments. The case was then jointly investigated with HMRC.

Farrer admitted VAT and benefits fraud at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court.

Paul Maybury, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: ‘Farrer’s level of dishonesty is truly shocking and inexcusable. He thought theft and fraud was an acceptable way of life despite his numerous convictions. Now his incessant deceit has landed him behind bars.’

Report by Pat Sweet  

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