Four arrested in fuel scam probe

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Four people from Hastings have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a £3million fuel fraud scam.

The four were part of a group of nine people from across southern England during an operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The four were three men aged 45, 46 and 67 and one woman aged 63. Around 170 HMRC officers, assisted by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and Sussex and Hampshire Police searched 12 homes, five business premises and two petrol stations in East and West Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hampshire and Somerset yesterday. The ongoing investigation is focused on the suspected illegal purchase and sale of rebated kerosene and biofuel to motorists as duty-paid road diesel. It is believed the fraud is worth an estimated £3 million in unpaid excise duty and VAT. David Margree, assistant director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “Motorists need to be aware that using illicit fuel can damage and destroy vehicle engines, has a detrimental effect on legitimate fuel traders and deprives the government of money used to fund public services. Anyone with information about fuel fraud or people involved in the sale, storage or distribution of illicit fuel can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

All those arrested were questioned by HMRC investigators and released on bail while enquiries continue. Laundered fuel is red diesel or kerosene, which has been filtered through chemicals or acids to remove the Government marker. The chemicals and acids remain in the fuel and damage fuel pumps in diesel cars.