A BOLTON man is among 11 people sentenced for setting up 23 bogus construction firms to steal £4 million in a VAT fraud.

An HMRC investigation found people were paid as much as £35,000 by the gang to allow them to use their names to act as directors of the fake companies.

HMRC officers became suspicious when they noticed strong links between many North West building firms.

They were regularly providing services to each other, using the same accountant, and using the same invoices, receipts and accounts figures to make sizeable claims for VAT refunds.

Lee Marsh, aged 42, of Greystone Close, Bolton, admitted his role in the fraud and received a one-year prison term, suspended for a year.

He was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and issued with a one-month curfew between the hours of 9pm and 5am.

HMRC found 23 companies were involved in the chain and had defrauded taxpayers of £4,328,386 over the course of 18 months.

Ten gang members were jailed at Manchester Crown Court on Friday, January 31, with another jailed there on February 14.