A PE teacher who stole £100,000 of tax repayments to spend on gambling, golfing and football matches has been handed a suspended 21-month prison sentence.
Blaine Wakeman, 26, of Spiceland Road, Birmingham, lied about purchases and financial losses from his two companies to fraudulently claim VAT repayments, an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed.
HMRC checks raised concerns over the tax returns of Wakeman’s companies Sports Plus Scheme Staffordshire and Inspire Sports Education Limited – which both provided children’s sports coaching.
A criminal investigation was launched in June 2016.
Inspire Sports Education Limited has since been struck off while Sports Plus Scheme Staffordshire is still listed as an active company.
Wakeman, who until recently worked as a PE teacher and head of year nine at Grace Academy in Solihull, initially denied any wrongdoing and produced fake invoices and bank statements to support his lies.
But in October last year he admitted producing the false documents and fraudulently claiming VAT repayments between October 2013 and August 2016.
Richard Young, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Wakeman knew what he was doing was wrong. He was abusing the tax system to fund a lifestyle he couldn’t legitimately afford.
“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime. It affects us all by depriving the public services of vital funding. I would ask anyone with information about tax fraud to report it online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Wakeman used the cash, totalling £100,000, to fund an online gambling habit.
He also spent money on lifestyle expenses, including holidays, Leeds United football matches and golf memberships.
A spokeperson from the academy said: “Blaine Wakeman no longer works at Grace Academy Solihull. Obviously this behaviour does not reflect the core values of the academy or the level of integrity we expect from all our staff.
“Grace Academy has not, at any time, had any involvement with Mr Wakeman’s external business interests, or been contacted by HMRC as part of their investigation.”
Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.