HMRC fraud investigator, 36, used her knowledge of tax credits to swindle £18,000 and spent the money on holidays but judge spares her jail because it’s Christmas
- Tracey Griffiths had worked for HM Revenue Customs in Wolverhampton
- She was found guilty of fraud and ordered to do 180 of unpaid work
- A large chunk of the money was spent on trips to Tenerife and Paphos
Tracey Griffiths (pictured above) was ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work
A lenient judge has spared a HMRC fraud investigator jail after she pocketed £18,000 in bogus tax credits and spent the money on holidays, because it’s Christmas.
Tracey Griffiths had worked for HM Revenue Customs and used her knowledge to make false tax credit claims.
The 36-year-old submitted a claim which stated that she was a struggling single mother-of-three, despite still living with her husband Stewart.
She told the authorities she was on her own after her marriage broke down.
Between 2014 and 2016 she managed to swindle £18,147 and splashed out on several expensive European holidays for her family.
Griffiths, who lives in the West Midlands, was found guilty of fraud but was spared jail on Thursday 20 December.
She was sentenced to 12 months suspended for a year and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing her at Warwick Crown Court, Judge Peter Cooke said: ‘Over a protracted period of time, a couple of years, thorough dishonesty and an inside knowledge of the tax credit system, you inflated your household income to the tune of £18,147.49 by fraud.
Judge Peter Cooke (pictured above) said Griffiths had inflated her household income to £18,147,49
‘I suspect you will go to your grave denying doing anything wrong, but your fellow citizens who sat on the jury saw through you.
‘What is also pretty clear is that a large chunk of the surplus was spent on foreign holidays, with trips to Tenerife and Paphos and all around Europe.
‘You are someone who has not offended before, but this was protracted and thorough dishonesty.
‘But it is a case where the balance comes down in favour of a suspended sentence for two reasons.
‘First it is your very first offence, and there is no denying the significant adverse aspect would be on the two children for which you have care, not just because it is a few days before Christmas.’
The court heard Griffiths had worked for the HMRC office in Wolverhampton since 2003 including as an investigator fighting VAT fraud.
In February 2014 she applied for tax credits claiming she and her husband Stewart, 40, had separated and were living apart.
But in fact they were still living together at their home in Barnet Close, Kingswinford.
Prosecutor Ben Williams said: ‘She was, in her job, in a position of significant trust.’
Luke Ponte, defending, said Griffiths has since been sacked from HMRC and was now working for a furniture company.
He added that the trial had ‘taken its toll’ on her, to which Judge Cooke quipped: ‘She’s taking fewer holidays, I imagine.’
Tracey Griffiths was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court (pictured above)
After the case, Adrian De Ath, HMRC’s assistant director, Internal Governance, said:
‘This was a gross breach of trust.
‘Griffiths exploited her position and used her detailed knowledge of the tax credits system to claim money she knew she was not entitled to.
Tracey Griffiths (pictured above) had spent the money on holidays to various European destinations
‘Corruption amongst our staff is rare and will not be tolerated. HMRC expects the very highest standards of behaviour from all staff.
‘There is no place within HMRC for criminals like Griffiths.
‘HMRC will now work hard to recover the proceeds of her crime.’