Fraudster Jailed Following Largest Seizure Of Fake Cash In UK History
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A gang member who helped print £12 million in counterfeit money has been jailed following the largest seizure of fake cash in UK history.
61-year-old Andrew Ainsworth was handed a five-and-a-half year prison sentence at Woolwich Crown Court after being found guilty of conspiring to produce counterfeit currency.
Three other members of the gang are already in prison with their combined sentences standing at 22-and-a-half years after they were convicted in January last year.
Ainsworth's gang used a specialist printing machine to churn out fake £20 notes, but investigators were alerted to their presence after the Bank of England discovered £1.8 million in fake cash entering circulation in January 2019.
Investigators were able to uncover a London-based industrial unit owned by one of the gang members after tracking materials used in the process of printing the counterfeit notes.
Police raided the site in May 2019, finding two men along with printing equipment and more than £5 million worth of fake money at the scene.
Another £5 million worth of fake notes was found dumped on a residential road in southeast London by a dog walker in October of that year, while three months later a further £200,000 was picked up on a railway line between Farningham and Longfield.
Andrew Pritchard, assistant chief constable of Kent Police, said: "The printing press our officers raided in Beckenham was supposed to produce magazines, leaflets and flyers but instead contained the largest face-value quantity of counterfeit cash ever discovered in the UK.
"This was a professionally run operation but those involved were naïve if they thought they could carry on undetected."
Neil Harris of the National Crime Agency praised the outcome and was glad that police had prevented millions more notes worth of counterfeit cash from entering circulation.
He said: "Had the conspirators remained undetected, the effects would have been felt by innocent people across the UK going about their day-to-day business, particularly retailers who would have lost most of that value.
"As well as convicting those involved in the actual printing of the notes, this investigation resulted in the convictions of those who supplied finance and would have been involved in the wholesale distribution of the counterfeit notes."
If you do think you've got a counterfeit note, the Bank of England is keen to stress it's not worth anything and that you should take it to your nearest police station so they can investigate it.
The switch from paper to polymer bank notes has been one of the key steps in cracking down on counterfeiters, with the old paper notes being taken out of circulation.