A man who falsely claimed to be an unemployed single parent has been jailed for tax and benefit fraud worth more than £72,000.
Andrew Cooper, 48, from Beddau was working as a self-employed signage erector and living with his partner, who was also in full-time work.
Between April 2008 and April 2013 Cooper failed to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions on his earnings.
On eight occasions, between January 2012 and April 2013, he deliberately charged customers more money by raising invoices and charging VAT while pocketing the cash himself.
Cooper earned £126,026.29 during this time and the total value of his tax fraud came to £29,387.10.
A joint investigation carried out by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) found Cooper had fraudulently claimed income support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and council tax benefits totaling £43,369.14 over a period of 12 years.
The combined amount came to a total of £72,756.24 and he pleaded guilty to tax and benefit fraud.
Donna Scrivens, DWP fraud manager for south west Wales, said: “While Cooper claimed he was only helping a friend and living alone our investigations uncovered that he was in fact working as well as living with his partner who was also in full-time work. This prosecution is an excellent example of cross-government working resulting in an overpayment of £72,000 being identified which will now need to be repaid by Cooper. He has also received a 15-month sentence as well as a criminal record.”
Colin Spinks, assistant director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, added: “Cooper exploited both the benefits and the tax system over a long period of time which is not fair to the majority of hard-working tax payers and those who are legitimately deserving of benefits. This prosecution sends a strong message that, along with our partners in DWP, we will bring those who steal from the UK economy and the British taxpayer to justice.”
Cooper admitted failing to pay more than £29,000 in income tax, VAT and National Insurance contributions as well as fraudulently claiming more than £43,000 in benefits when he appeared before Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court.
On Tuesday he appeared at Cardiff Crown Court and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Confiscation proceedings to recover the proceeds of his crime will follow.