Family members who orchestrated a significant counterfeit currency scam from a small town in Kirklees have been instructed to repay a combined total of over £223,000.
Christopher Gaunt aged 59 and his son Jordan Gaunt aged 27, residents of Holmfirth, were mandated to reimburse their illicit profits during a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing held at Leeds Crown Court on Friday, July 7. The Economic Crime Unit instigated the confiscation proceedings.
In 2022, both individuals pleaded guilty to the manufacturing of counterfeit currency with the intention of distributing it as genuine. Their admission followed a collaborative investigation by West Yorkshire Police and the National Counterfeit Currency Unit (UKNCO) at the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Christopher Gaunt from Holmfirth was sentenced to six and a half years for the currency offence, as well as possession with intent to supply cannabis, in December 2022. Conversely, Jordan, also from Holmfirth, received a suspended sentence of two years for the currency offence.
During the recent hearing, Christopher Gaunt was deemed to have profited £217,390.47 from his criminal activities and was mandated to repay this exact amount. Jordan Gaunt, on the other hand, was deemed to have benefited by £6,114.14 and was instructed to pay a total of £3,840.32, which was deemed available to him.
Both individuals are required to satisfy the confiscation orders in full by October 6, 2023, or risk potential extensions to their custodial sentences.
Investigations into the duo commenced in 2020 after the Kirklees Proceeds of Crime Team was alerted by the NCA, which had been conducting inquiries into the suspected circulation of counterfeit banknotes. The counterfeit notes included various denominations of English and Scottish currency.
These inquiries ultimately led the authorities to Christopher Gaunt, who was apprehended on October 8th, 2020, at his residence on Bank Street. Subsequent to his arrest, a search of his property uncovered approximately £200,000 worth of forged, antiquated paper currency, along with equipment used in the production of counterfeit money. Additionally, a cannabis factory was discovered at the premises.
On the same day, law enforcement officers searched another location managed by Christopher Gaunt on Wakefield Road in Scissett. During the search, they discovered further equipment, including dyes and printers, employed in the manufacturing of counterfeit banknotes.
It is believed that the forged banknotes were intended for sale to contacts within the criminal underworld.
Chief Inspector Lee Townley of the Economic Crime Unit, said: “We welcome the substantial joint confiscation imposed on these men by the courts, which ensures they have to pay back every available penny of the money they made from crime.
“They masterminded a substantial counterfeit currency ring and we believe the ‘cash’ they created was being used to fund crime in communities so it is a good thing for residents that this supply chain has been broken.”
He added: “The Proceeds of Crime Act exists to allow us to make sure criminals do not benefit from their ill-gotten gains, and our specialist financial investigators work had to ensure we make as much use of this legislation as we can in West Yorkshire.
“Cash like that seized from these men, is reinvested in policing and in good causes in communities to ensure some good can eventually come from activity which only caused misery.”