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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Counterfeit cash and jewellery fraud go hand-in-hand

By Andrew Reilly

It is probably not a stretch of the imagination to think that people capable of carrying out one form of crime are probably capable of carrying out other forms of crime.

Some people may be opportunistic criminals, but for people involved with more serious crime, there is a realisation that certain crimes can be carried out more effectively with other criminal activity.

It may be the case that carrying out certain crimes will bring you into the circle of people carrying out other activities, and before you know it, your actions can be far greater, with greater rewards and risks involved with the entire process.

This also means that investigating officers need to be aware that while they are reviewing or investigating one style of crime, another style of crime may be taking place too. This was the situation in Manchester when police officers investigating jewellery fraud stumbled upon more than £2m in counterfeit cash. Both of the individual crimes were running into the millions, so combining the two of them made for an almighty haul, and it is also suggests that if the people accused of the crimes are found guilty, there could be serious consequence for the criminals.

counterfeit money and jewelry
Fake jewelry & money are identified by close inspection
In late December, the GMP released a statement that men were stopped at a city centre hotel just after 2pm on a Sunday, specifically the Sunday before Christmas. A quick search uncovered the fact that the men held more than £2m worth of counterfeit euro currency, close to £50,000 of legitimate euro currency and there was also over £100,000 of high end watches. All of the men were arrested on the suspicion of fraud, with the police questioning them in custody.

A spokesperson for the serious and organised crime group of the force, DI Rob Coulsen, released a statement, saying; “This type of crime causes a lot of harm to legitimate businesses and I hope the action this weekend reassures local businesses and residents we are committed to tackling organised crime in all its guises.”

There will always be a demand for this style of product

Clearly in the run up to Christmas, there were people looking to find a bargain and it may be that being offered a high end watch for a low price is something that many people would jump at, especially in the weekend before Christmas. However, there are a number of issues that can arise from this sort of purchase. There is never any guarantee of quality with this style of purchase and there is no real opportunity to get a refund if anything goes wrong. The old adage about if something is too good to be true then it probably is still very apt today, and this would appear to the case with counterfeit jewellery.

However, there is also a concern about where the money paid by everyday punters for counterfeit jewellery actually ends up. This case hints at a higher level of criminality being linked together and while selling counterfeit jewellery may be a good way to bring in quick funding to aid cash flow, it may also play a role in carrying out much more serious crime.

The complexity of major crimes such as fraud means that it is likely that a number of people are working together, as it would be unlikely that one person would carry out everything that is needed by themselves. It may be that the more people involved, the more likely it becomes that something will go awry or someone will let something slip, but when these crimes are being undertaken by experienced and intelligent criminals, they can often run like clockwork, even though the activities are complex.

This is where the law enforcement agencies can benefit from a slice of luck, and the fact that the officers involved stumbled upon the counterfeit cash during a separate investigation and search is good news for them, and no matter what, they can take that money and press for charges. However, it is also likely to open up other channels for investigation, which could see other elements of the crime being linked or focused on.
Defending people from these allegations can be difficult, because the people involved will likely want to limit how much information they provide to their solicitor, especially if the level of criminality is bigger than at first suspected.

About the author: Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 8 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn't sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.

Image: Pyronx, "A pair of dental loupes featuring in lens magnification; CC BY-SA 3.0