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Scammer faked a fake company for a £1m VAT scam so he could ‘fuel a love of Lego sets’

The 49-year-old scammer faked a fake transport company for a £1 million VAT scam so he could “fuel a love of Lego sets, luxury cars and high-end hot tubs”.

  • A scammer spent over £1 million of taxpayers’ money on a luxury lifestyle
  • Lee Hickinbottom, 49, was jailed for eight years for the three-year VAT scam
  • Hickinbottom spent money on luxury cars, vacations and expensive Lego sets

A fraudster who spent more than £1m of taxpayers’ money to finance a bizarre life of luxury cars, holidays and expensive Lego sets has been jailed for eight years.

Lee Hickinbottom, 49, colluded with his partner Tabatha Knott, 34, to work together to submit fraudulent VAT refund claims to HMRC.

Hickinbottom used a made-up trucking business to claim most of the VAT in a claiming spree that lasted from 2014 to 2017.

Bogus Serenity Community Transport Ltd claimed £1,290,326.93 in VAT, in relation to more than £7m in false invoicing, a court heard.

Lee Hickinbottom, 49, colluded with his partner Tabatha Knott, 34, to work together to submit fraudulent VAT refund claims to HMRC

Lee Hickinbottom, 49, colluded with his partner Tabatha Knott, 34, to work together to submit fraudulent VAT refund claims to HMRC

The former lovers used the stolen money to finance dream trips to Disneyland Paris, visit the Empire State Building in New York and buy Lego sets.

The couple also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating their Dudley home, which included spending a whopping £13,000 on a hot tub that had to be put in its place.

Hickinbottom shelled out more than £250,000 on luxury cars, £4,220 in support of Everton football club, £18,847 on iTunes, £15,925 on Apple products, he even spent £1,500 on expensive Lego sets.

HMRC officers discovered the fraud when the claims were verified despite Hickinbottom’s attempts to conceal his crimes by transferring £346,512 to family and friends and sending £76,908 to Knott.

During a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court in December 2020, Hickinbottom pleaded guilty to dishonestly claiming £28,000 of the Job Seeker Allowance and Employment Support Allowance between July 2013 and October 2013. 2016.

Lee Hickinbottom and Tabatha Knott were found guilty of VAT fraud on March 25, 2022 following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court. Knott was also convicted of money laundering offences.

Hickinbottom shelled out more than £250,000 on luxury cars, £4,220 in support of Everton football club, £18,847 on iTunes, £15,925 on Apple products, he even spent £1,500 on expensive Lego sets.

Hickinbottom shelled out more than £250,000 on luxury cars, £4,220 in support of Everton football club, £18,847 on iTunes, £15,925 on Apple products, he even spent £1,500 on expensive Lego sets.

Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday, Hickinbottom of Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, was sentenced to eight years in prison.

While Knott was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Nick Stone, Deputy Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: ‘This was a sustained attack on the tax system that funds the vital public services we all depend on.

The former lovers used the stolen money to finance dream trips to Disneyland Paris, visit the Empire State Building in New York and buy Lego sets.

The former lovers used the stolen money to finance dream trips to Disneyland Paris, visit the Empire State Building in New York and buy Lego sets.

‘Lee Hickinbottom stole from taxpayers to fuel his love of Lego sets, luxury cars and high-end hot tubs. He was driven by greed. He enjoyed vacations and a lavish lifestyle that most honest and law-abiding taxpayers can only dream of.

“His sentence sends a very clear warning that we can and will bring tax fraudsters to court to face justice. We encourage anyone with information about any type of tax fraud or money laundering to report it to us online.”

Proceedings are underway to recover the stolen money.

What did Lee Hickinbottom spend his money on?

£346,512 worth of friends and family, including nearly £77,000 for her then-partner

£250,000 worth of cars including a Jaguar F Pace, Jaguar XF and a Land Rover Defender

£127,000 to remodel his Dudley home, including £22,000 on a kitchen and £13,000 on a hot tub

£20,000 of shares in a candy company

£18,847 on iTunes

£15,925 worth of Apple products

£4,220 at Everton F.C. and £970 in season tickets

£1,500 worth of Lego sets

£1,000 at Alton Towers

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