Tax officers vow to track down dodgers after South Shields businessman jailed for £76,000 fraud

Mark Esdaile
Mark Esdaile

Tax officials say they will continue to pursue revenue dodgers after a South Tyneside businessman was put behind bars for a £76,000 VAT fraud.

Mark Esdaile, 35, was jailed for 22 months at Newcastle Crown Court last week after he realised his new firm, Contact Me Solutions – a gas and electricity contract company – was not going to succeed but continued to claim VAT through the defunct firm.

Esdaile, of Rosa Street, South Shields, confessed that “every single claim” – apart from a few when he started up the business – was fraudulent.

The court heard between 2013 and 2016, 21 fraudulent returns resulted in him pocketing payments of £76,117.

The court heard Esdaile has previous convictions for theft by employee and has received suspended prison terms in the past.

Cheryl Burr, assistant director, fraud investigation service, Her Majesty’s Revue and Customs, said: “HMRC will continue to protect legitimate traders by taking action against those who steal from the public purse.

“As an accountant, Esdaile was in a position of trust, but he used his knowledge of the tax system to steal from honest and hardworking taxpayers.

“If you know of anyone committing VAT fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788887.”