Three men have been jailed for their part in a conspiracy to supply more than £12 million in counterfeit banknotes after police seized what is thought to be the “largest face-value seizure of fake currency in UK history”.
A police raid at an industrial unit in Beckenham, London, in May 2019 and found £5.25 million in false £20 notes.
As detectives investigated the conspiracy, a dog walker found around £5 million dumped on a road, a smaller batch was discovered on a rail line and the Bank of England removed £1.6 million in fake money from circulation.
John Evans, Phillip Brown and Nick Winter have been jailed for a combined 22 years for their part in the conspiracy.
Police raid leads to ‘largest seizure of its kind’
Police started investigating in January 2019 after the Bank of England found a new counterfeit £20 note.
It appeared to have been made using specialist equipment usually used by companies that produce magazines or leaflets.
Months of enquiries and mobile phone analysis of people suspected to be involved in the conspiracy led police to the Beckenham site.
Officers found piles of fake money with a face value of £5.25 million – thought to be the biggest seizure of its kind in the UK – and printing equipment.
Inside, they arrested Brown, 54, who told police “you have caught me red-handed”.
A list of names next to numbers which added up to 5.25 million was found during a search of his home.
Police then arrested the business’s owner, Winter, who was on holiday in the US while it was raided.
Evans was arrested in September 2019. One of the names on the list found in Brown’s home was “John”, which is thought to be Evans, Kent Police said.
Officers found an encrypted phone which Evans later admitted was evidence of criminal activity.
With all three men charged, police later discovered more counterfeit currency which is thought to have been printed by the group’s members.
A dog walker found the £5 million of fake notes dumped in Belvedere, South East London, in October 2019 while just under £300,000 of the counterfeit money was found scattered on a rail line between Farningham and Longfield in Kent.
Counterfeit money ‘funds crime and hurts economy’
Evans, 27, of Esher, Surrey, was one of the main organisers of the operation, police said.
He was given 10 years in prison at Woolwich Crown Court on 20 January and also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Brown, of Longfield, was jailed for six years and six months while Winter was imprisoned for six years on 21 December 2020.
Detective Chief Superintendent Morgan Cronin, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Counterfeiting directly funds organised crime and hurts the UK economy by creating losses for businesses, which ultimately affects the cost of the things we buy.
“It also has a direct impact on those who receive fake notes in exchange for goods or services, as what they thought was genuine money is in fact worthless.
“Organised criminal groups will go to great lengths to obtain expensive homes, fast cars and other luxuries they are not entitled to – even if it means printing the money required themselves. This was a sophisticated operation but one that was ultimately doomed to failure due to the offenders’ mistaken belief that they could carry on undetected.”
Neil Harris, senior officer in the National Crime Agency’s counterfeit Currency unit, said: “Serious and organised criminals damage the economic health of the UK through their efforts to line their own pocket.”
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