COUNTY NEWS: Sussex smuggler sentenced in £210k counterfeit cigarettes case

A man has been sentenced for evading £210,000 in duty on counterfeit cigarettes smuggled into Southampton Port in a container, HM Revenue & Customs has confirmed.

In a statement released yesterday it said Mitchell Scott, 59, who set himself up as an online vaping retailer as a front for his illegal importation, was arrested by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers in Hove on February 1, 2017.

HMRC’s investigation had begun in July 2016, after Border Force officers at Southampton Container Port discovered 642,200 counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes hidden in a shipping container under wooden chairs in 93 boxes, and box 94 was full of vaping equipment (see gallery above).

Richard Wilkinson, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Mitchell Scott tried to rip-off legitimate retailers by smuggling counterfeit cigarettes into Southampton Port. Import documents with false information were meant to stop the illegal

load being discovered.

“HMRC works with Border Force to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. We encourage anyone with information about the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal cigarettes to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Scott pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Lewes Crown Court on December 21 (2017) and was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, at the same court on January 23 (2018) along with being given a Community Payback Order of 240 hours unpaid work.