Five held over £500,000 bid to cheat Revenue

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Five members of a suspected organised criminal gang have been arrested over an alleged attempted £500,000 tax fraud, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said.

A spokesman said HMRC investigators had worked in close co-operation with counterparts in Italy to arrest a man at Stansted airport as he got off a flight from Italy on Saturday afternoon.

He was subsequently charged with cheating the Revenue and remains in custody, the spokesman said.

A further four men were arrested in London, at Stansted airport and in Chatham, Kent, and have been bailed pending further inquiries.

The group is suspected of illegally obtaining personal data from third parties in order to set up a number of false self assessment accounts with HMRC with the intention of attempting to steal large sums of false tax rebates.

Andrew Sackey, assistant director, criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “HMRC’s online systems proved extremely resilient to these attacks – they correctly identified and prevented the vast majority of false repayment attempts from the outset.

“These arrests clearly demonstrate that we can, and will, apprehend those suspected of attempting to cheat UK taxpayers.”