FOUR people in Cheshire have been issued with voluntary interview invitations as part of an investigation into takeaway till fraud.

Over the last month, a probe launched by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers has seen a number of takeaways across the country given unannounced inspections.

The HMRC officers have been investigating the potential use of Electronic Sales Suppression (ESS) tools, which can alter electronic point-of-sale records.

As well as issuing interview requests to four people in Cheshire, a 47-year-old man in Manchester was arrested as part of the inquiry.

A HMRC spokesman said: "HMRC knows some takeaways are using ESS tools which are either software or devices that alter electronic point-of-sale records.

"They are used to under-report a business’s sales and consequently evade tax.

"On the surface, a transaction might appear to go through as normal, but ESS tools enable records to be manipulated – sometimes by deleting sales and linking to either domestic or offshore payment platforms.

"To combat ESS in the takeaway industry, HMRC has robust methods in place, including accessing data from external sources, such as bank statements and transaction records from online food ordering platforms.

"This includes payments some platforms facilitate between takeaways and wholesalers. The information is then compared against a business's declared income to identify any discrepancies."

Anyone using, supplying, making or promoting ESS can face fines of up to £50,000 or criminal prosecution.

Those involved are urged to come forward and use the disclosure facility on the website. The longer a business takes to disclose information, the higher the financial penalties will likely be.

HMRC is also encouraging anyone with information regarding ESS or any form of tax fraud to contact it online.