Fraudster hid 250,000 illegal cigarettes in home

By Matthew Bates 14/06 Updated: 14/06 13:16

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Hamish Simmonds, head of Coventry City Council's Regulatory Services, with some of the illegal tobacco seized from Cheylesmore man Abu Baker Hama-Amin's home.

A FRAUDSTER who hid 250,000 illegal products in his city home has been jailed.

Abu Baker Hama-Amin was involved in nearly £500,000-worth of counterfeit and smuggled tobacco products.

Trading standards officers had uncovered the huge haul at his Benedictine Road home in Cheylesmore.

The 43-year-old was jailed for 20 months at Coventry Crown Court earlier this month after pleading guilty to fraud.

All of the tobacco found was either counterfeit or had been smuggled into the country illegally with a street value of around £40,000.

Officers also discovered four diaries written in Kurdish during the raid which - after being translated - were found to hold records of the sale of almost one million cigarettes and 8,000 packets of hand rolling tobacco.

After a lengthy investigation by city council officers, Hama-Amin eventually pleaded guilty to his part in the fraud.

Coun Rachel Lancaster, chair of the council's licensing committee, said she hoped the prosecution served as a warning to others.

"The sentence sends out a strong message of deterrence to individuals involved in the supply of illegal tobacco products in the city.

"Any smoking is bad for you but these unregulated products are often inferior in quality meaning people buying these products are more likely to put their health at greater risk.

"As well as avoiding tax, legitimate local businesses also lose out as they simply cannot compete with these cheaper illicit cigarettes. It has also been proved the proceeds from this illicit market can go on to fund more serious organised crime."

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