A raid of an industrial unit in Beckenham resulted in the largest seizure of counterfeit banknotes in UK history - worth £5.25 million.

Three men have been jailed following the investigation, which began when after the bank of England identified a new counterfeit £20 note.

John Evans, 27, and Phillip Brown, 54 were jailed for over 15 years between them at Woolwich Crown Court on January 20, having previously admitted their involvement in the conspiracy to supply more than £12 million worth of fake cash. 

A third member of the group, Nick Winter, was jailed for six years on Monday 21 December 2020.

In January 2019, the Bank of England discovered the note, which appeared to have been produced using the type of specialist printing equipment that would normally be associated with a company that produces large volumes of magazines or leaflets.

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After months of enquiries, including mobile phone analysis of suspects, a search warrant was carried out a business premises owned by Winter on Kent House Lane, Beckenham, in May 2019.

Inside, officers found Brown and another man surrounded by printing equipment and large piles of counterfeit £20 notes, which were later confirmed as having a total face value of £5.25 million – believed to be the single largest face-value seizure of counterfeit currency in history.

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Upon his arrest, Brown told the officers “you have caught me red-handed”.

A subsequent search of his home address led to the discovery of a list of names with numbers next to them that added up to 5.25 million – the same value of the counterfeit notes.

Winter had been on holiday in America at the time his business was raided, but was arrested upon his return to the UK on Sunday 26 May 2019.

One of the names on the list seized from Brown’s home was ‘John’, which is believed to refer to John Evans.

Upon his arrest on September 13, 2019, officers found a highly encrypted telephone that he later admitted was evidence of criminal activity despite initially denying his involvement in this particular conspiracy.

After all three men had been charged in relation to the conspiracy, further large amounts of counterfeit currency believed to have printed by the group’s members continued to be discovered in the months that followed.

On Wednesday October 9, 2019, a dog walker found around £5 million worth of fake banknotes dumped in Halt Robin Road, Belvedere.

A further £200,940 was found scattered along the railway line between Farningham and Longfield on Wednesday 15 January 2020, with the Bank of England having already identified and removed around £1.6 million worth from general circulation.

Evans, 27, of King Georges Walk in Esher, Surrey, was one of the main organisers of the criminal operation and was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment as a result.

He had also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice for attempting to exert pressure on another man to admit his involvement.

Brown, 54, of Ash Road, Longfield, was jailed for six years and six months after he was caught printing the money at an industrial unit owned by Winter, 58, of Elmers End Road, Beckenham.

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 pockets.

"We supported the operation which dismantled this criminal enterprise and prevented millions of pounds of counterfeit money entering the UK economy. The impact of that counterfeit money would have been felt by unsuspecting members of the public across the UK.

"We remain focused in our work to combat illicit finances, which ultimately help fund further serious and organised crime.’