Some of the smuggled cigaretttes
A HOVE man has been sentenced for evading £210,000 in duty on counterfeit cigarettes smuggled into Southampton Port in a container.
The load supposedly contained boxes of vaping equipment and wooden seats.
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 officers in Hove on February 1 2017.
HMRC’s investigation began in July 2016 after Border Force officers at Southampton Container Port discovered 642,200 counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes in a shipping container.
The illicit cigarettes were found hidden under wooden chairs in 93 boxes, and box 94 was full of vaping equipment.
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, of Nevill Road, pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Lewes Crown Court.
He was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, with a Community Payback Order of 240 hours unpaid work.
Source: The Argus