Couple in bid to smuggle suitcases of cigarettes through Birmingham Airport
A married couple from the Black Country have been handed suspended jail sentences after trying to smuggle cigarettes worth more than £66,000 through Birmingham Airport.
HMRC investigators, who took the case to court, said it was an act that would have cost taxpayers "thousands of pounds of lost revenue".
Taxi driver Juned Ahmed, age 42 and his wife, Shalma Khanom, 38, from Tipton, were stopped along with Syeda Begum, 42, from Birmingham.
The couple, who told officers they were related to Begum, landed in the West Midlands with 166,000 cigarettes, worth more than £66,754 in evaded duty.
The group were challenged by Border Force officers after they walked through the airport’s nothing to declare channel after returning from a three-day trip to Dubai, on May 6 2018.
Investigators discovered very few personal belongings or clothes, but the suitcases were filled with non-duty paid Benson and Hedges cigarettes.
All three pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion and were sentenced by at Birmingham Crown Court on August 22.
They were each handed 16-month custodial sentences, suspended for two years.
A spokesman for HMRC said: "People like Ahmed, Khanom and Begum deprive our public services of vital funding.
"This was a blatant attempt to smuggle cigarettes into the UK and it would have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in lost revenue.
"HMRC works with partners to tackle the illicit tobacco trade and anyone who thinks they can smuggle cigarettes into the UK and gain an unfair advantage over legitimate, law-abiding cigarette sellers who are paying the tax they owe.
"We ask anyone with information about any tax fraud to report to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887."
Information about any type of tax fraud can also be reported to HMRC online at www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business
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