A tax cheat newsagent who masterminded a three-year VAT scam worth more than £100,000 in Blackpool must pay back £250,000 of her ill gotten gains.
Maureen Carpenter was previously given an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty to fraud at Preston Crown Court.
At a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing the 51-year-old, of Leamington Road, Blackpool, was deemed to have benefitted to the tune of £250,000 by her criminal actions.
Judge Jonathan Gibson, sitting at Preston Crown Court, ordered her to pay the full amount back or face further time in prison in default.
Carpenter was exposed after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation revealed she was only declaring her earnings up to 5pm – even though the Booze Booze Booze store she ran stayed open until 11pm.
Officers searched the premises, on Central Drive, and found two handwritten cashbooks, with takings figures entered under two separate columns labelled ‘day’ and ‘night’ in a bid to disguise her total sales and avoid paying some of the VAT she owed.
Carpenter charged customers VAT but pocketed the cash herself.
At the time, a HMRC spokesperson said: “Carpenter chose to hide her sales to try and cheat her tax obligations.
“Criminals like Carpenter create an uneven playing field for the honest majority. “That’s something we will not tolerate.”
Carpenter pleaded guilty to fraudulently avoiding paying VAT.