We reported this seller to HMRC VAT Fraud team in 2014 . They finally stopped trading in late 2016.

HMRC has gifted this seller at least £6,680,000 in unpaid VAT That’s 29.7% of the total £22.5m budget HMRC have allocated to tackle this fraud over the next 5 years.

Case Study

UPDATE 10th October 2016 – Photodirect continues to trade using their second eBay account robscamerastore. All items are dispatched VAT Free from the UK.


UPDATE 23th February 2016 – this seller has now removed all their UK listing and is now listing products that are located in USA. They are still using a UK PO Box as their address.

Photodirect is making sales just under £10,000,000.00. This equates to £1.67 million in VAT evasion a year. They started trading on eBay.co.uk 12 years ago in July 2003.

They are one of the largest fake VAT evading companies found trading on eBay and run two eBay business seller accounts.

They specialise in selling VAT Free Cameras, iPhones, iPads and tablets. Their stock is located in the UK. View their eBay listings located in the UK here.


They are using a Hove based PO Box, not displaying a VAT number or full company name.

Photodirect eBay Sales

In December 2014 they made sales on eBay of £838,412. Their best selling item was an Apple iPhone 6 Plus 16GB – Gold; sold at £572.64; £46.36 cheaper than Apple.com. This item alone accounted for £36,649.21 of sales.

Details of Photodirect eBay Sales 2104
2014 Photodirect robscamerastore
Total £9,025,109 £778,709
December £838,412 £60,951
November £780,434 £165,196
October £273,685 £8,797
September £617,117 £4,028
August £478,612 £1,863
July £1,011,460 £1,998
June £1,321,343 £9,131
May £1,058,054 £30,113
April £898,561 £102,659
March £1,240,719 £159,207
February £732,207 £142,491
January £612,917 £153,226

Secret Shopper

On contacting the seller to inquire whether a VAT receipt would be issued for a £2,000 camera, the seller confirmed that the “price doesn’t include VAT”.

PayPal Account

Payment was made to robscamerauk@gmail.com PayPal account.

This Paypal account is also linked to another eBay business seller’s account: robscamerastore.

This account has the following contact information:

Robert Steinherz
35 Derby Ave
11516 Cedarhurst, NY
United States

Phone: 917 642 2848
Fax: 718-677-8446

Here is Google view of location:

The item received had Royal Mail Printed Postage Impressions License number of HQ62624 and gave the same PO Box number as a return address.

Photodirect was exposed in a The Daily Mirror Article, however no action has been taken by eBay.

A detailed report was sent to HMRC VAT Fraud team over 6 months ago, and still the no action has been taken.

Questions for HMRC to Answer:

  1. Why you allowing this VAT evading seller to carry on trading on eBay?
  2. Who is accounting for the £1.67 million of VAT on Photodirect eBay sales?
  3. Is the PayPal account used by this company robscamerauk@gmail.com registered to a UK company or is it being used to launder money out of the UK and into America to evade paying VAT?