Thousands of 'fake' cigarettes seized in Preston, Wigan and Blackpool raids

More than 28,000 cigarettes, all thought to be fake, have been seized. (Stock image)
More than 28,000 cigarettes, all thought to be fake, have been seized. (Stock image)
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More than 28,000 cigarettes and three kilos of hand-rolling tobacco were seized from Lancashire shops in a series of raids.

The county-wide investigation took in shops in Preston, Wigan and Blackpool and ended yesterday in raids on 12 Blackpool shops.

Half of the 12 premises visited by customs officials had stock taken as part of a crack down on counterfeit tobacco.

HMRC, which carried out the raids, said the goods would have been worth £10,921 had they been properly taxed.

Tim Atkins, assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”

In total almost 45,000 cigarettes and 8,1kg of hand-rolling tobacco worth an estimated £17,924 in taxes was recovered.