A convicted fraudster found to have made more than £60,000 through the sale of illegal tobacco has been ordered to pay back his ill-gotten gains.
Michael Wallace, of Tyldesley Old Road, Atherton, was jailed for 20 months in October after he pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Fraud Act, the Trade Marks Act and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations act.
The court heard that the 54-year-old made a ‘very successful’ living from selling counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco at a huge profit.
Following his sentencing, Wallace returned to Chester Crown Court on Monday 13 May for a proceeds of crime confiscation hearing.
During the hearing the court was told that a thorough financial investigation by officers from Cheshire Constabulary’s Financial Investigation Unit and staff at Cheshire East Council’s Trading Standards department had revealed that Wallace made more than £60,000 as a result of his criminal conduct.
After hearing all the evidence gathered against Wallace, the judge granted a confiscation order totalling £62,630.48.
He was also ordered to pay more than £8,000 in court costs and compensation.
Detective Sergeant Helen Rowland, said: “Wallace’s downfall came in July 2017 when he was arrested by officers from Knutsford Police Station.
“The officers were conducting an undercover operation in relation to racist graffiti on a number of road signs on the A50 in Toft.
“Following Wallace’s arrest officers conducted a search of his address in Atherton, where they discovered illegal tobacco products valued at more than £33,000, along with more than £22,000 in cash which was hidden in a wardrobe, a chest of drawers and under a bed.
“A subsequent investigation by Cheshire Constabulary and Cheshire East Council’s Trading Standards department revealed that as well as being responsible for the racist graffiti, Wallace had been running a lucrative business selling counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco.
“I hope that the prison sentence and confiscation order handed to Wallace act as a warning to other potential offenders. This is a fantastic result which shows that crime really doesn’t pay.”
Anyone with information about illegal tobacco can call the Tackling Illegal Tobacco hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it online at www.keep-it-out.co.uk .