Ex-HMRC call centre worker jailed for fraud

A sacked HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) employee who tried to steal more than £140,000 of taxpayers’ cash has been jailed for two years and four months.

Nicola Barnes, 36, of Castle Bromwich, Birmingham should have been helping taxpayers’ clear debts and make payments over the phone.

But the former debt management adviser was stealing from some of those customers and diverting their payments into a string of non-HMRC bank accounts.

Before she was dismissed by HMRC, in March 2018, Barnes managed to steal £52,348.

Ben Rollins, head of anti-corruption, HMRC, said: “As an HMRC employee at the time Nicola Barnes’ actions were utterly deplorable. She held a position of trust and responsibility. She stole from people who were simply taking steps to clear the debts they owed.

“We are committed to the highest level of integrity, and we take the strongest possible action against the tiny minority who let us all down by falling short of those standards. Fraud is never a victimless crime, and by stealing from taxpayers Barnes was also stealing from public services used by us all.

“We encourage anyone with information about tax fraud to report it online.”

Barnes joined HMRC in October 2017 but was dismissed in March 2018. Her fraud was uncovered when taxpayers, who thought they’d cleared their debts, complained to HMRC after they continued to receive debt payment reminder notices.

Barnes made eight attempts to try and steal £143,264 of taxpayer money. She was successful on six occasions and stole £52,348.

Barnes pleaded guilty to eight counts of Fraud on 7 March 2022 at Birmingham Nightingale Court.

On January 25, 2023 Barnes was jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for two years and four months and ordered to pay £1,800 costs.

The taxpayers that Barnes stole payments from did not suffer any financial loss.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...