Three men have been jailed after being involved in a conspiracy to supply over £12 million of counterfeit banknotes in Beckenham.

The counterfeit cash was found at a printing press and the men must now give up the real money they earned from their crimes.

Phillip Brown, John Evans and Nick Winter were all jailed following an investigation in 2019 by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

Police have said that this is the largest face-value seizure of fake currency in UK history.

It is believed the defendants profited from their conspiracy by selling the counterfeit money to other criminals, with the Bank of England having removed notes with a total face value of over £1.9 million from UK circulation.

On Friday, June 9 2023, a judge at Woolwich Crown Court granted confiscation orders against Brown and Winter, requiring them to pay back what they have available in cash and other assets.

In Brown’s case, the amount of £207,761 whilst Winter must pay £4,000.

Evans had previously been ordered to pay £7,258 at an earlier hearing in November 2021.

An investigation into the group’s activities began when the Bank of England identified a new counterfeit paper £20 note had entered general circulation.

The note appeared to have been made using specialist equipment that would usually be associated with a company printing large volumes of magazines or leaflets.

As part of police enquiries, officers found that parts and materials associated with the production of fake currency on a commercial sale had been ordered.

They found that these were linked to a printing press in Kent House Lane, Beckenham owned by Winter.

On Saturday, May 4 2019, a search warrant was carried out and inside, officers found Brown and another man surrounded by printing equipment and large piles of counterfeit £20 notes.

These were later confirmed as having a total value of £5.25 million.

In the months that followed, other, large amounts of counterfeit currency believed to have been printed by the group continued to be discovered.

Evans, 40, formerly of King Georges Walk in Esher, Surrey, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in January 2021 for his involvement in the conspiracy.

The same day Brown, 56, previously of Ash Road, Longfield, was jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Winter, 61, formerly of Elmers End Road, Beckenham, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment the previous December.

Detective Inspector David Godfrey said: “The Proceeds of Crime Team work very hard to establish how much offenders have earned from their illegal activities and have available to pay back.

“Those who fail to pay within a set timeframe have their prison sentences increased.

“It is also important to note that we carry out regular reviews and can continue to seize any further cash and assets the offenders may come into in the future, until the total amount they benefited from is recovered.

“The offenders in this case printed their own money but their criminal actions have ended up costing them their freedom and now the money they had no right to in the first place.”

Police have said that the assets recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act are distributed to operational agencies including Kent Police under the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS).

ARIS divides recovered assets between operational agencies and the Home Office which is then reinvested into policing.