Fake Movie Fraud
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
A NEWRY actress and film producer has been convicted of taking part in a £2.8m fraud attempt centred around a fake movie.
Aoife Madden, who was back in Newry last year for the city's inaugural film festival, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.
She was among five people convicted in a London court last week of a plot to defraud the exchequer of millions.
The group had tried to claim £1.5m in VAT and a further £1.3m in film tax credits for a film that didn't exist from a government scheme set up to help film makers.
The gang claimed they were making a multi-million pound production that would feature internationally renowned film stars and was backed by a Jordanian company to the tune of £19m.
However, when the plot was uncovered the fraudsters were forced to hurriedly make an actual film to cover up their actions.
A Revenue and Customs spokesperson explained how the gang had attempted to defraud taxpayers of millions.
“Evolved Pictures told HMRC that millions of pounds of work had been spent on the film, including paying actors and film set managers, claiming this meant a VAT repayment was due of £1,488,187," a spokesperson said.
“However, during checks HMRC found that the work had not been done and most of the so-called suppliers and film studios had never heard of the gang.
“Furthermore, capitalising on a scheme designed to support genuine British film makers, Evolved made fraudulent tax credit claims of £256,385.50, while preparing to submit a further claim of £1,033,337.
“However, after they were arrested, the gang came up with an elaborate plan to cover their tracks and hide the fraud by shooting a film on a shoestring called A Landscape of Lies."
A Landscape of Lies was released on DVD in October 2011 and was actually received quite well by critics, even managing to win a Silver Ace award at last year's Las Vegas Film Festival.
The film, which featured television personalities Marc Bannerman and Andrea McClean, centred around a former British soldier's attempts to discover the truth behind his friend's murder in an apparent mugging.
None of the of the other cast or crew involved in the film were aware of the fraud.
John Pointing, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation with Revenue and Customs said he was pleased the group had been caught.
“This gang thought they could exploit rules for genuine British filmmakers and thieve from the public purse for their own gain," he said.
“They were wrong as HMRC will not stand by and let that happen.
“Falsely claiming VAT that is not due is illegal - so we are pleased that instead of this film flop going straight to DVD, these small-screen z-listers could go straight to jail."
Ms Madden and her accomplices will be sentenced in London on Monday, March 25.
Send to a friend
Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.