Fraudsters ordered to repay more than £16.6million
A family of fraudsters who pocketed more than £45million in one of the largest payroll frauds of its kind in the UK have been ordered to repay more than £16.6million.
Geoffrey Copp, his son Joshua, and his brother Andrew, were jailed in June 2017 following an investigation into their umbrella payroll companies.
The trio ran Central Payroll Specialists, which was later rebranded as Quality Premier Services, based in Croxley Heath near Rickmansworth.
Over the course of three years, the Copps did not pass the VAT they received from the recruitment agencies that used their services to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Instead, they split the cash to fund lavish lifestyles including luxury cars, watches and homes both here and in Spain.
The scam came to light after information was passed to Essex Police, resulting in an investigation led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, with the assistance of HMRC’s Criminal Taxes Unit.
All three were convicted of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property.
It followed a trial at Wood Green Crown Court, which ran from April 4 to June 5 last year.
Geoffrey, 57, formerly of Holland Close, Stanmore, was jailed for 10-and-a-half years.
Joshua, 26, previously of Galley Lane, Barnet, was jailed for eight years.
And Andrew, 52, formerly of Cardy Close, Hemel Hempstead, was jailed for nine years.
A judge agreed confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 at a hearing at Wood Green Crown Court today, Monday, December 17.
Geoffrey Copp was found to have benefited from his crimes to the tune of £11,535,729. His available assets were £7,761,745 and he was ordered to pay this amount within three months or face a further nine years in prison.
Andrew Copp was found to have benefited by £8,053,209 and had £6,461,010 in available assets. He was also ordered to pay this amount within three months or face a further nine years in jail.
And Joshua Copp was found to have benefited by £9,873,513 and have £2,460,777 in available assets. He was ordered to pay this amount within three months or face a further eight years in prison.
The judge also agreed to grant Serious Crime Prevention Orders against all three. Further discussions will be held to confirm the terms.
Detective Inspector Paul Dibell, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This is the biggest combined confiscation order we have had as a force for a single case and sends a clear message that criminals will be made to pay for their crimes.
“The Copps ran their sophisticated scam for three years, freely spending cash meant for public services to prop up their luxury lifestyles.
“Their greed and dishonesty has taken money which was destined to support the running of the country and members of our society.
"This is not the end of this matter as a significant amount of money remains outstanding, having been spent on their lavish lifestyles.
"We will continue to monitor criminals like this on their release from prison and, where justified, ensure that any future assets are considered for removal in order to ensure they pay back the money they have stolen as part of their criminal activity.”
Tim Clarke, assistant director, HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Our work doesn’t stop when a fraudster is jailed, we make sure criminals do not profit from their crimes by recovering the stolen money to fund our vital public services.
“Our message is clear - tax crime doesn’t pay.
“They must pay back the equivalent to £16 million or face even more years behind bars - and still owe the money.
"Working closely with HMRC, further recoveries of £4,581,565 have been made by the liquidator of Quality Premier Services Ltd, the company being used to perpetrate the fraud at the time of the arrests in September 2015.
“Tax fraud is a serious crime and I ask anyone with information about possible fraudsters to report it to HMRC online or contact our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Last year’s trial heard how Joshua Copp declared his income as £19,256 for the tax years between 2010 and 2015. But his bank accounts were credited with £11.9million between 2011 and 2015.
Officers found designer clothing and luxury watches during a search of his home and he had nine cars registered in his name, including a Lamborghini Aventador and a Bentley Continental.
They found £55,000 cash hidden in various places at Geoffrey’s home in Stanmore, including inside a Bentley GTC Convertible on the driveway. He also owned at least one other property in Stanmore, which was mortgage-free, and a home in Malaga, and had bought three Bentley Continentals in cash between 2013 and 2015.
Several Rolex watches, works of art, a Lamborghini, Bentley and Range Rover were found at Andrew’s home. In 2015 he paid more than £362,000 for a Range Rover Vogue, Lamborghini Gallardo and Bentley Continental.