back to article Kebab and pizza shop owner jailed for hiding £179k from the taxman

A kebab shop owner who had sliced off a chunk of his takings and hid it from the taxman has been sent down for 30 months. Mehmet Tekagac, 43, of Viscount Road, Padgate, in Warrington, lied about his shop's takings as part of a £179,000 tax fraud. The fast food owner claimed he made around £9,000 a year from the Top Grill …

  1. Semtex451 Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Sub heading should read

    HMRC want a pizza the action

    1. tony72

      Re: Sub heading should read

      Me? Dodging taxes? I donner what you're talking about!

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Sub heading should read

        Shish, what a bad pun

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sub heading should read

          This is what happens when you skim a bit off the sides. That'll take some extra topping.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Sub heading should read

            Oh stop with all the cheesy puns!

    2. Brenda McViking
      Joke

      Re: Sub heading should read

      I think the IT angle is that someone managed to successfully use the Craptia/Iain Duncan Smith implemented IT benefits system to claim £49,528 in Child Tax Credits

      1. SolidSquid

        Re: Sub heading should read

        That'll be the appeal, that he was trying to apply to pay the corporate taxes and it gave him the child tax credits instead

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sub heading should read

          His biggest mistake was not running the con from states and forgetting to talk about his "disruptive" business model.

          All he needed to do was make his Pizza shop pay his American company to use its IP and it would have all been legal :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sub heading should read

      You don't want to take away from the article though.

    4. Matthew Smith

      Re: Sub heading should read

      Its all about the dough.

      1. AbelSoul

        Re: Sub heading should read

        Well, he has to earn a crust somehow.

  2. frank ly

    How on earth ....

    .... did he think he'd get away with it?

    "But HMRC investigators found he earned far more after examining bank records, his personal income and records of sales made through a website."

    Oh, good grief!

    1. Richard Jones 1
      FAIL

      Re: How on earth ....

      I understand that the checks are increasingly automated. Data on money flows is compared, the ins and the outs and if there is something out of kilter the name gets into the hat. If you make an allowed claim, e.g. personal allowance, perhaps tax free ISA income or as a business you claim legally allowed business expenses you will look OK. However, make some unallowable claim or do something that just does not stack up and you will be in trouble. I know a few who have been caught out over their business accounts not being right. So at the very least get a good accountant to control your excesses if you lack the skills to DIY correctly, that goes for private as well as business accounts.

    2. My other car is an IAV Stryker

      Re: How on earth ....

      A local story from the States: a secondary school Spanish teacher was embezzling school monies to fund her gambling habit at a nearby casino, specifically "penny slots".

      She didn't even bother opening a second checking account to handle these funds.

      Nor did she keep her classroom clean, where casino receipts were mixed in with the now-empty money envelopes from Homecoming ticket sales.

      The sign of an addict: WAY too much of an evidence trail; easily found out. She didn't even THINK about getting caught.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How on earth ....

        A lot of addicts want to get caught. Then they start getting help, even if of the type they weren't expecting.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    **straining**

    to contain myself due to the utter hypocrisy of a government stealing/ wasting billions and then spouting this off...

    Sandra Smith should look a lot closer to home...

    1. MOV r0,r0

      Re: **straining**

      the utter hypocrisy of a government stealing/ wasting billions and then spouting this off...

      There are rightly big penalties for not paying it but seeming none for wasting it? Funny how it's "tax" on collection, "tax payer's money" at local government level but then suddenly it's "Westminster money" as soon as MPs get involved.

      I really don't understand your message downvotes.

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    Not being funny, but this is the low-hanging fruit, surely?

    A kebab shop only making £9k a year, are you kidding me? How do you even begin to claim that, you'd be out of business in a year easily when you were basically a one-man band making only £9k for yourself after a year's worth of work (i.e. not even minimum wage for YOU, let alone anyone else).

    And if you were on HungryHouse / JustEat (which it sounds like), then they have records you can't hide. You put it in your bank, who would also give up that information. You claimed benefits (and they check all the above too).

    Sure, maybe you got away with it for a while, but how can you think that being so blatant would work for any length of time? Literally ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more money passing through your accounts than you were declaring.

    I bet they've had you on their list for years, but just waited for a quiet day. "Oh, well, lads, we didn't get the mastermind criminal. I still wanna send SOMEONE down though. Let's go do that kebab shop, it's long overdue..."

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Holmes

      "Tekagac is paying the price for thinking it was acceptable to steal from the public purse. He took his fraudulent income at the expense of honest taxpayers and businesses who play by the rules."

      Closer to the mark...

      "Tekagac is paying the price for thinking it was acceptable to steal from the public purse. He took his fraudulent income at the expense "of both" of the honest taxpayers and businesses who play by the rules."

      ie, Not Apple, Not Google...

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Few companies ever break tax law.

        The problem you're referring to is actually "There is a law that let's us do this" or more commonly: "There is no law that stops us doing this".

        When VAT law on products from Guernsey changed, Amazon were pretty quick to pay their bills and get out of there.

        The problem is a taxation / benefits system that allows such things, which is the fault of supposedly intelligent people working for government, not the people who find the loophole (who are merely morally corrupt).

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Muppet extraordinare!

      I was thinking the exact same thing - you're earning ~60k a year (based on the 180k mentioned in the article), so what are you going to try and ferret away from the tax authorities? 10k? 20k? 30k??? No i think I'll try and take 51k and claim I'm not earning enough to possibly cover my workplace expenses or home or you know inconsequential things like food and toilet paper.

      Muppet.

      Seriously if he'd tried to squirrel away that 9k and paid taxes on the rest he probably would have got away with it, but this, this is just stupidity on a Grand scale!

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Muppet extraordinare!

        So, the fraudulent claims and tax evasion did him in.

        What he should have done is to follow the big boys and gals and paid a hefty royalty on each kebab, packaging or whatever to his offshore company that holds the IP. Then pay the pittance of tax due in that jurisdiction for that income.

        edit: Just seen comment by @Yet Another Anonymous coward - along the same lines

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      re: A kebab shop only making £9k a year,

      Well he has to buy his kebab meat from Switzerland for £100/lb, and he has to pay a fee to Kebab Shop Licensing inc (Bermuda) for each kebab he sells, and the sale didn't happen in the UK anyway because all kebab sales are booked through Luxembourg.

      So really he makes a loss and has to claim a £9k a year subsidy

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      RE A kebab shop only making £9k a year,

      If I owned it I doubt it would make that - especially if it was next door to my £5k a year pub.

    5. Smooth Newt
      Happy

      Not being funny, but this is the low-hanging fruit, surely?

      Definitely. Anyone who has ever run a business will tell you that "profit" is a flexible fiction that can be manipulated for whatever tax purposes you want, because Profit = Income - Costs, and you can always crank up costs. Particularly if you have an imaginative company structure where one of your companies leases the premises to the other and pays a third to maintain them etc.

      The only reason a business ever needs to make a profit is to pay dividends, which can only be done out of profit, as a tax saving measure since you don't have to pay National Insurance on dividends.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And if you were on HungryHouse / JustEat....

      They're web sites? Oh. I thought those stickers on greasy takeway windows were a national warning scheme, indicating "Don't eat here the food is shite".

    7. Robert Sneddon

      Sure, maybe you got away with it for a while, but how can you think that being so blatant would work for any length of time?

      Criminals are stupid, generally. Someone I worked with was an accountant who had a number of clients in the self-employed/man-and-a-dog sector of the construction industry and she did their books for them. Every year she'd visit some of them now residing in various HMPs around the country to get them to sign off on their accounts for the previous year...

      1. Anonymous John

        True. There was an item in the local newspaper many years ago about a disc jockey who had had his record collection stolen. Not the best story to take to the paper when he hadn't declared that source of income to HMRC.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I once went on a HMRC investigation of a fish and chip shop. It was as simple as ordering a number of items and seeing whether it was put through the till, then while at the shop seeing how many other transactions were put through the till. They did this for a period of time with different 'customers' and then calculated the percentage of orders that did not make it to the till. Times this by the number of weeks/years they suspect it has been happening and within a few months the outlet was shut down.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      I should think nowadays that it's just:

      "Compare personal bank account income to business income and VAT paid" on a computer.

      They do that for benefits already, they can literally look up all kinds of things about your income, outgoings, accounts, contracts, loans, etc. and spot discrepancies.

      Obviously, they have to have a reason to look, so something obviously flagged on the system as suspicious or an anonymous report, etc., but they have it to look at and that's done long before they go see if the premises.

      Hell, if you have a bill arrive in a new name at a premises where someone is claiming benefits, they can be informed and query whether you "live alone", etc. - my ex and I had that happen in the past.

      As soon as they get a sniff, or a report, it's quite easy to prove things like this nowadays. It's hard to deal in or hide cash, even.

      It might not be immediate and they rarely act straight away or tell you what's happened, but they can gather evidence enough in seconds.

      1. Reue

        My understanding was that they do not look into your person account without evidence pointing towards its misuse. Ie: They cant go looking into personal accounts to gather the initial evidence of wrongdoing.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      If only they could go to an Apple store and ask how the till is in Ireland when the store is on Oxford st

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Apple till in Ireland

        They wouldn't get many sales when the Fanbois using their UK Stores discover that the Irish VAT rate has been applied rather than the UK one. HMRC would not be amused either. Unlike Google claiming that all their business was done in Dublin a physical transtaction for phycial goods is much harder to, cough, cough hide.

        Now Corporation Tax payments are another issue entirely and Apple along with MS, Google and especially Amazon need to be brought to book pronto.

  6. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Meanwhile, Apple, Google and MS ... what?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Apple, Google and MS ... have enough money to pay for accountants and lawyers, so they won't be paying uanything for years.

  7. katrinab Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Presumably the IT angle is that a certain taxi operator isn't in jail despite evading £20m of VAT in London alone, not to mention employment taxes and corporation tax.

  8. rmason Silver badge

    Avoiding paying child maintenance.

    I'll put my money on "reported for being a shithead by the ex" as the breakthrough the authorities had in this case.

    Me or you (assuming you don't work in the fast food business) have no clue what a takeout owner makes. His ex Mrs does though.

  9. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Idiot. He's unlikely to have got caught if he just squirrelled away some of the cash purchases. He deserves prison for the crime of being stupid if nothing else.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      He deserves prison for the crime of being stupid if nothing else.

      Using that criteria, a lot more prisons need to be built.

  10. cb7

    Soft targets

    It's a shame they don't give a shit about the Billions Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, eBay etc. avoid paying

    Where there's a will, there's a way

  11. defiler Silver badge

    Fiddling the VAT...

    The first rule of being VAT registered is "you don't fuck with the VAT man".

    The second rule of being VAT registered is "YOU DO NOT fuck with the VAT man".

    Virtually nobody ever got jailed for swerving their PAYE / NI / Corp tax. Loads are in the clink for VAT.

    What a trumpet.

  12. Babbit55
    WTF?

    So, a small shop skims £179k and it's jail.

    The giants however skim billions and they get a free pass......

    Priorities right?

    1. Oneman2Many

      The giants can afford to stay within the law

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: The giants can afford to stay within the law

        more that they can arrange for the law to be written in such a way as they can easily work within it.

        You work for the tax office and you know what's going on you end up working for one of the giants.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "The giants however skim billions and they get a free pass......"

      See other comments. They pay VAT.

  13. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    slow commetards on a friday

    not one mention of HMG getting their slice of the pie.

    YOU ARE ALL FIRED!!!!

    1. Def Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: slow commetards on a friday

      Pizza isn't pie.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: slow commetards on a friday

        Pizza isn't pie.

        Pizza = pie r2

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: slow commetards on a friday

          pizza aren't squares... they are round...

          Pizza Hut stopped doing their square pizza years ago.

          1. Chris 239

            Re: slow commetards on a friday

            Their Gluten free pizzas are square.....

            (and crap compared to the GF ones available in every pizza joint in Norway)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: slow commetards on a friday

        "Pizza isn't pie."

        Not according to Dean Martin .... [Amore (1953)]

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsfHuSqLIEw

        :)

  14. TRT Silver badge

    Tekagac?

    Sounds like some dodgy IT outfit.

  15. John70

    Accountants

    He needed to use the same accountants as Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, etc...

  16. kain preacher Silver badge

    Wait if he lied to get public assistance wont they come after him for that next ?this week tax fraud next week welfare fraud.

  17. John Robson Silver badge

    el Reg units...

    Slacking again - I liked the reference to how many DUP votes each tax scam is worth...

  18. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Sounds like he was cooking the books...and based on my experience of kebabs, the books probably had more nutritional value.

  19. SwizzleStick
    FAIL

    The icing on the cake...

    is the wrong food group :(

  20. ukgnome

    I am genuinely surprised that the HMRC found this out.

    they don't seem the sort could find both arse cheeks with their own hands.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely just a cultural misunderstanding?

    "as back in my country everyone does this..."

  22. Gustavo Fring

    i DUNNO

    POOR guy ws just trying to earn a crust and now hes well and truly stuffed

    Moral hide 10% decalre 90% not hide 90% decalre 10% !

  23. unwarranted triumphalism

    Nothing

    compared to the money stolen from the taxpayer by cyclists.

  24. hatti

    It's a pitta he didn't run his business honestly

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meanwhile, tumbleweed rolls by at the mossack fonseca investigation office down the hall.

  26. Joe Harrison

    Random? How do HMRC decide

    I think everyone has acquaintances who we strongly suspect must surely be dodgy af taxwise, but living it large and not in jail. Buy-to-let landlords are the most obvious example. Taxman ignores them for years, and anecdotally I've heard people say they are tired of grassing people up to the HMRC hotline because nothing ever happens anyway. Then suddenly a random dodgy kebab guy gets hit. Wondering how it really works.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Random? How do HMRC decide

      Joe Harrison,

      Easy, if you are small fry and have NO lawyers on call 24/7 or Big Mega Accountancy Company doing your accounts .... then you are somewhere near to the top of their list.

      Everyone else, such as Google, Amazon etc get years to creatively sidestep the thing called TAX by gaming the situation across different countries borders and Tax rules with inter-company cross charging to muddy the water enough to obscure the real figures.

      [Much like we all do .... don't we ???!!!]

      When eventually HMRC grow some cojones, they have a nice 'off the record chat' with the company involved to advise that they will be considering looking at their tax arrangements sometime in the future and for the Company to get in touch when they are 'ready' to discuss their calculations.

      [You can see the tough 'No Nonsense' stance that is taken by HMRC at once !!!]

      Of course, this does not in any way give any advance warning to prepare/obscure the 'Case' and 'Tidy Up' the books.

      Some months/years/decades later after discussions with the Lawyers and Big Mega Accountancy Company of the said 'Target', the HMRC decide to estimate a very small percentage of the Tax thought to be owed and issue this as a 'Full & Final' settlement of the disputed Tax Bill.

      Not dissimilar to how we all pay our Tax, is it not !!! [Cough splutter]

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