Duty fraud is taken very seriously both by HMRC and by the Courts. Most of those involved in duty fraud are seeking to evade paying tax for their own financial gain, however there are circumstances under which your business may become involved in the purchase of such goods without your knowledge. This post looks at what ways to identify potential duty fraud and protect yourself and your business from prosecution, and financial sanctions.
How to Spot Duty Fraud
There are a number of indicators that excise duty may have been evaded on certain products. These include the following:
Unsolicited offers – If you are made an offer for goods seemingly out of nowhere via email or through flyers this could be an indication that the goods are not fully compliant with excise obligations. However, this will normally only be an indicator where something else leads you to believe something is not right – this could just be a marketing tactic for legitimate goods.
Cash only sales – Where a seller insists on dealing in cash, this could be a sign of duty fraud. This is normally coupled with a failure to provide an invoice.
Unidentified seller – If there is a lack of detail about where the goods are coming from, this could be another indicator that the supplier has evaded duty on the goods. Where the supplier refuses to supply details about their address or VAT registration.
Too-good-to-be-true offers – If you have received an offer for goods at very low prices, it is likely that the seller has saved money on the good in some way, which potentially could be through not paying excise duty. The seller may also be concerned about disposing of the goods quickly and as such may be offering them at a particularly low price.
Anyone found to be holding goods where excise duty has not been paid is liable to pay the duty and may be subject to HMRC recovery proceedings. It is essential that if you suspect that you have purchased or that you are holding goods on which duty has not been paid that you contact an expert solicitor as soon as possible.
Contact Stephen Lickrish & Associates – Specialist Duty Fraud Defence Solicitors
Our specialist solicitors have expertly handled numerous duty fraud cases and understand the impact this can have on you and your business. Our clients appreciate our ability to handle their cases discretely, whilst also building a comprehensive defence.