Woman who ran party businesses jailed after not paying back £87,000 she stole in VAT fraud


A businesswoman who forged invoices to fraudulently pocket £87,000 in VAT refunds has been jailed for not repaying the money she stole.

Claire Gould, of Garland Terrace, Fence Houses, Houghton, was handed a two year suspended prison sentence in September 2016, after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) discovered she used phoney invoices to claim VAT refunds through her three party and events businesses.

The 38-year-old was ordered to repay £87,509 she made from her crimes but has since failed to do so.

Gould has now been jailed for 504 days and still owes the money.

Gould said she spent £1.25 million on goods and services for her Fence Houses-based companies - Balloon Mania Ltd, All Wrapped Up Events Ltd and Belles and Beaus (UK) Ltd.

But an investigation revealed this was a lie and Gould had used fake invoices in an attempt to fraudulently claim £175,000 VAT refunds, of which £87,509 was paid.

Gould was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay back the money she stole within two months at Durham Crown Court in September 2016.

She failed to fulfil the requirements of the confiscation order and was sentenced to 504 days in prison at Leeds Magistrates’ Court today.

Gould only paid £7,000 towards the confiscation order.

Her debt of £80,509, plus interest totalling £9,936, remains and increases by £17.65 a day until paid.

Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.