£48k found in Blackpool freezer hidden by chicken nuggets

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The Fraud Investigation Service has recovered £1 billion in assets – the equivalent to funding around 20,000 NHS nurses for a year

 

£48,000 found in a freezer drawer, hidden among chicken nuggets at a house in Blackpool, as part of a £16m tobacco fraud
£48,000 found in a freezer drawer, hidden among chicken nuggets at a house in Blackpool, as part of a £16m tobacco fraud

Tens of thousands of pounds in cash was found in a Blackpool house freezer drawer hidden among chicken nuggets.

The discovery was made by a specialist HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) fraud squad as part of a £16m tobacco fraud investigation.

It is among the more unusual seizures and confiscations made by the squad since its inception five years ago.

Launched in April 2016, the department’s Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) has now recovered £1 billion in assets from the proceeds of crime and tax offenders – the equivalent to funding around 20,000 NHS nurses for an entire year.

FIS has been proactively pursuing the suspected proceeds of crime using enforcement powers, both criminal and civil, to disrupt the movement of cash and assets.

In the past five years, more than 1,200 seizures of cash and assets have been made while on operational duty

Some of the bigger and varied seizures and confiscations include:

  • £48,000 found in a freezer drawer, hidden among chicken nuggets at a house in Blackpool, as part of a £16m tobacco fraud
  • £750,000 of gold bars seized from a lunchbox at Manchester Airport, which were auctioned off with proceeds going back into the public purse.
  • A £1.7 million confiscation order imposed on a payroll fraudster who had to stump up the cash or face having four years added to his nine-and-a-half year sentence.
  • Gold jewellery and £180,000 cash seized from a safety deposit box in Birmingham as part of a £194,280 tax fraud
  • More than £840,000 in cash was seized at a residential garage in Sydenham, south-east London, after FIS helped dismantle a gang responsible for a £9.5 million tobacco fraud.
  • A convicted fraudster was ordered to hand over poker winnings twice in 2018 and 2019 totalling £99,030 to satisfy an outstanding confiscation order.

Simon York, director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “To reach this £1 billion milestone in five years speaks volumes to the dedication, hard work and skill of FIS to recover the proceeds of crime from those who try to cheat the system.

“Whether it’s cash seizures, confiscation orders or account freezing orders, recovering these assets stops criminals bankrolling their lavish lifestyles and funding further crimes that harm our communities, such as drugs, guns and human trafficking. Crucially, this money goes back into the public purse, helping fund our vital services such as schools and hospitals.

“HMRC deploys cutting-edge technology to investigate unexplained wealth and uncover hidden assets. Last year alone, we recouped more than £218 million from proceeds of crime.

“We are committed to recovering criminal assets and today the message is clear – crime doesn’t pay.”