Jayne Mitchell, 40, a secretary from North Yorkshire, lived a luxurious lifestyle buying Ferraris and lavish properties on the proceeds of the scam, which turned over £80m in two years of operating.
The scam involved importing 7,000 new vehicles free of VAT and passing them through a chain of fake companies,
Eventually the vehicles were sold to unsuspecting car supermarkets and dealerships across the UK while many of the fake companies disappearing without paying VAT due on the sales.
Sentencing Mitchell, His Honour Judge Durham Hall said: “You had no defence and came forward with fanciful explanations in the face of damning evidence. This fraud was both brazen and meticulous with ruthless attention to detail. You manipulated all and any for the pursuit of your own ends. This was a massive, deliberate and determined attacked on the UK VAT system and a gross example of cheating the public revenue.”
It worked by Mitchell and her co-conspirators setting up fake companies, producing invoices for non-existent transactions and operating a cash network that saw hundreds of thousands of pounds being transferred between the gangs personal and business bank accounts.
All the while the gang were siphoning off the criminal profits, a practice known as ‘missing trader’ fraud.
In two years of operating one company received over £65 million in bank credits whilst another raised invoices for over £4 million in just four months. At the height of the fraud one of the companies imported and sold more than 1,200 cars in just one month.
Peter Hollier, regional director of criminal investigation at HMRC said: “This was a professionally organised, sustained attack on the UK tax system.
“This crime group had gone to great lengths to facilitate this fraud; which saw them ‘steal’ more than £12 million from the UK’s economy.”
The gang included; father and daughter Reginald Turner and Tammy Copson from Walsall, Peter Green from Halifax, Russell Bakewell from Cannock, demolition expert Steven Hague from Halifax and Wayne Murden from Walsall.
They were caught after HMRC began investigations into the accounts of a number of the companies controlled by Jayne Mitchell and they were subsequently charged with conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.