Scammers Jailed For £3 Million Film Fraud
March 26, 2013 Taxation in UK
BELFAST – A group of filmmakers have been jailed after claiming millions in fake tax refunds after spending only a few thousand pounds on the production of a fake movie.
On March 25th five individuals from Northern Ireland were sentenced to jail for their involvement in a tax scam which sought to obtain approximately GBP 2.8 million in fraudulent tax refunds and credits for the production of a movie which never existed.
Initially the group claimed to have secured nearly GBP 19.4 million in funding from a Jordanian company to produce a A Landscape of Lives, a movie which was allegedly going to be filmed and edited in the UK in order to be eligible for tax credits available to large scale movie productions.
The group had received over GBP 700 000 in VAT refunds and tax credits for the movie before any suspicions were raised by the HM Revenue and Customs.
Following the launch of an investigation by the HMRC, the group created a script for the movie and even signed acting agreements with the UK actress Andrea Mclean.
The supposed film makers also produced a short 7 minute trailer for the movie, which cost GBP 5 000 to make and was regarded by the Court as being of unusable quality.
The continued investigation by tax authorities revealed that the majority of the invoices written out by the group were fake, and almost all individuals and businesses which were recorded as being involved in the production had never been in contact with the group of movie makers.
Further, even those individuals who had been contracted to provide services for the production as part of the cover up were under the impression that the movie was a genuine film and would commence in the near future.
So far none of the falsely claimed money has been recovered from the prosecuted, and the HMRC is now considering action to seize the assets of the five involved in order to make up for the lost refunds.
Photo by bitzcelt