It is not as if you should ever be quick to find humour or joy in other people’s misfortunes, but there are definitely some times in life when people will be glad to see someone being caught out. This may sound uncharitable but there are plenty of professions in life where there is not too much sympathy or empathy for people who make a living out of the misfortune of others. There is no denying that road traffic wardens have a hard task in life, because they never get any sympathy from people. This is because motorists don’t like the idea of getting a parking ticket. Even though it is the motorist who is in the wrong when it comes to situations like this, you will find that people tend to side with the car owner as opposed to the professional who is merely doing their job.
The sort of approach can be found in the way people react to people who work for the HMRC. Anyone involved with the running of the taxation service is generally deemed to be worthy of criticism by the general public. This is why there will be some people who take delight or joy in the demise or fall of people who work for this organisation. It is also means that there is a perverse level of joy to be taken when a former employee of the HMRC is found guilty of committing fraud.
This was the case for Neil James Foster who after being dismissed from a HMRC Contact Centre in County Durham back in 2009 took up a job with an energy company. However, he also set up a business selling and trading DVDs, video games and games consoles. It was found that he lied on his tax return, fraudulently declaring losses of £31,000 which he used to claim a tax repayment of £12,319.59. The investigation carried out by the HMRC found that the alleged business losses, which were claimed for the period of 2009 and 2011, were offset against the tax that Foster had paid for the work that he carried out with the energy firm.
The risks would have been apparent
In some ways, this sort of crime being carried out by a former employee of the HMRC was extremely strange. They more than most people should realise the way that investigations work and that if his claim was investigated, he would more than likely be in trouble. Perhaps he didn’t think much of the investigating skills of the body, believing that he would be able to escape capture for the crime that he committed.
Diane Donnelly is the Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation at HMRC and she spoke to local media at the conclusion of the case. Donnelly said; “As someone who used to work for HMRC, Foster knew that lying on his tax return, with the sole aim of lining his own pockets, was going to land him in court.”
There will be no Sympathy for the Accused
In the Magistrates court in Newcastle, Foster pleaded guilty to 4 counts of being “knowingly involved in the fraudulent evasion of income tax”. He was sentenced to 8 months in prison although this sentence was suspended for 12 months and Foster was also ordered to pay £165 in costs for the court. Given the potential haul that Foster could have received from his claim, this is not a massive punishment, and it is one that many people will have concerns with. The fact that Foster understood the inner workings of HMRC meant that he clearly felt that there was scope to achieve success with this style of fraud, and there is a worry that perhaps other people will be doing the exact same thing without being caught.
As someone who should have been very aware of the risks involved with his actions, there will be no sympathy for Foster, and it is clear that this was a case that had a lot of different levels to consider. This is why there is a need to call on the best standard of professional support and assistance when dealing with accusations of fraud. The most effective defence can provide mitigation and support for anyone facing this style of accusation and it is vital to ensure that you have the best possible backing at all times.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football