Woman funnelled £300,000 of stolen tax into failing Scottish gift shop

A woman stole nearly £300,000 in tax to fund failing a gift shop selling Scottish souvenirs to tourists.

Elgin Sheriff Court
Elgin Sheriff Court

Carla Ross, 49, was working as a consultant to oil companies in Aberdeen while also fleecing the taxpayer out of enough cash to pay for ten newly qualified police officers.

Greedy Ross, who also used the first name Jayde, ran a gift shop, A Gift From Scotland, in Moray, which was registered under the name Gifts From Scotland Ltd.

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The struggling shop boasted of selling 'the best handmade goods Scotland has to offer', including tweed and tartan products, all made by craftsmen.

But while it appeared twee on the outside, the family-run business in Aberlour, Moray, was being propped up by criminality.

Money stolen through VAT fraud was being funnelled into the shop by Ross, who stole £285,000 - enough to fund ten newly qualified cops earning £26,037 a year.

Between January 2008 and July 2016, Ross submitted false VAT repayment claims to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Her three personal services companies GR Controls Ltd, Compliance Strategies Ltd and JRoss Services Ltd, were registered for VAT.

But the returns she submitted showed suppressed invoice amounts and exaggerated purchases made to fraudulently claim VAT repayments.

For more than four years, she also provided VAT returns for companies that had previously been dissolved.

The majority of the money stolen was diverted into the company bank account for her Moray business, Gifts From Scotland Ltd, to prop it up and also to support her lifestyle.

She was nabbed by HMRC in December 2016.

Ross, of Cuilmuir Terrace, Croy, North Lanarkshire, pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of VAT at Elgin Sheriff Court on May 28.

Today (July 9) she appeared again at the same court and was sentenced to an 18 month community payback order and a 12 month restriction of liberty order between 7pm and 7am.

Assistant director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, Cheryl Burr, said: "Ross stole money needed to fund our vital public services, an amount equivalent to ten newly trained police constables in Scotland.

"Instead, she invested the cash into a failing company and used it to support her lifestyle.

"HMRC will pursue criminals who attack the tax system."