https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/m ... e-17419288
Paul Harrison was mastermind of scam which saw stamps being washed and sold on as if new
A businessman who ran a £250,000 fraud involving used stamps being washed and sold on as if new has been jailed for four years.
Paul Harrison and wife Samantha supplemented their incomes out of the illegal enterprise and used the proceeds to go on holiday, to buy a BMW and also a personalised number plate.
Harrison, 52, of Lancar Court, Barnsley, was jailed for four years at Birmingham Crown Court after he was previously convicted of adapting, supplying and possessing articles for fraud.
He had admitted money laundering and another charge of supplying articles for fraud.
His wife, 44, of the same address, was convicted of money laundering. She was sentenced to two years, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid work
Graham Rought of St Giles Road, Tile Cross, had previously admitted adapting, supplying and possessing articles for fraud and money laundering.
The former dental technician was handed an 18 month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 85 hours unpaid work
Ben Close, prosecuting, said: "This offence involves the obtaining and selling of large quantities of stamps which had already been through the postage system.
"They bought second hand stamps, removed from envelopes, and sold them on so they could be reused.
"Paul Harrison accepts he put them on grease proof paper to make them appear as if new.
"Rought was involved in washing off the franking marks."
He said Rought had been involved in the fraud for two and half years and that Paul Harrison had operated an account called Affordable Stamps, which had run since June 2007.
Stamps were bought by Harrison in kiloware and had traded on Amazon and eBay.
Harrison, in his contact with others, made efforts to avoid details being recorded on invoices.
An investigation was started, he said, when on February 19 2015 a large quantity of envelopes were rejected at a sorting office in Glasgow.
Tests showed there were no signs of phosphor on the stamps, which were mainly addressed to schools in Scotland, and they were then traced back to the Harrisons.
He said when their home was searched evidence was found of the process going on.
Mr Close said stamps were being sorted, there were towels to dry them and that stamps and stamp related products were found "all over the address."
He said Harrison had contacted Rought on a number of occasions asking him about the method he used to wash the stamps.
"There were some flirtatious exchanges between them because Rought thought he was speaking to Samantha Harrison," Mr Close said.
The court heard Paul Harrison had been involved in the sale of around 700,000 stamps which had resulted in loss to Royal Mail of £421,000.
Just over £215,000 had gone into an account held by the Harrisons while Rought's benefit had amounted to around £43,000 and he had caused a loss to the Royal Mail of £113,000
Paul Harrison had recruited his wife into the scam, the court heard.
In passing sentence Recorder Naomi Ellenbogen QC told Paul Harrison: "It is clear to me this was a calculated business activity, the proceeds of which were your prime income.
"The fraud took place over a period of just short of nine years. You made considerable gain from these offences."
James Bruce, for Rought, said he was arrested in August 2016 and that the matter had been hanging over his head since that time.
He said it was not a sophisticated endeavour and that he had carried out the washing process in his garden shed.
"This was a one man band. He did not employ anyone else," he added.
Vanessa Saxton, for Paul Harrison, said he had worked since leaving school, held a responsible position and that in middle life he would have to start all over again.
While Katie Rafter, for Samantha Harrison, said she had "turned a blind eye to her husband's activities" but must have had suspicions about them.