A Staffordshire man jailed for stealing over £372,000 by making fraudulent VAT repayment claims has been ordered to pay money back or face an extra two years in jail. The confiscation order comes after a financial investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Ross Elliott, from Stoke-on-Trent, claimed that between January 2008 and October 2010 he was working as an electrical contractor on new build developments for a number of large, well-known building companies. He submitted hundreds of purchase invoices to reclaim VAT, but HMRC investigators discovered these were all false.

Adrian Farley, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:

“Elliott stole this substantial sum of money purely to line his own pockets. His abuse of the VAT repayment system was carried out over a sustained period of time and involved a high degree of planning. Today’s hearing will serve as a stern reminder that action does not stop with a prison sentence; we will pursue every avenue to ensure money stolen is reclaimed for the taxpayer and public finances.”

His Honour Judge Coke in court today complimented the detailed financial work of HMRC officers in the case. Evidence gathered during the HMRC investigation showed Elliott had little or no lawful trade since 2007. Sales invoices alleging he carried out work for private homeowners, who had never heard of him, were fictitious.