A serial fraudster, who lied about his disability and stole more than £280,000 VAT and benefits to pay for flying lessons, has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
An investigation by HMRC and the the UK's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found Keiran Farrer, of Whinsmoor Drive, Carlisle, set up a sham business and stole VAT, which he spent on acquiring his private pilot’s licence.
The 39-year-old also told DWP he suffered from mental health problems and had difficulty walking more than 1.5 metres. In reality he was enjoying a life of leisure spending money on flying lessons and ten pin bowling.
Mr 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.
Mr Farrer told HMRC he’d set up a car hire and leasing business and spent more than £2 million on vehicles and business supplies for the company. 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 Mr Farrer pocketed the VAT repayments, which he was not entitled to.
At the same time Mr 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.
But DWP discovered he spent more than £50,000 on flying lessons.
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.
Mr Farrer admitted VAT and benefits fraud at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court on 7 December 2017 and was sentenced to four years and six months in prison at Carlisle Crown Court today, 16 February 2018, by His Honour Judge Peter Hughes QC.
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