Couple’s brazen $470k stamp fraud unravels
A man has been jailed for washing 700,000 used stamps and selling them on as new as part of a $A470,000 scam.
Working alongside his wife, the mastermind fraudster bought a BMW with a personalised number plate and took a holiday with the criminal proceeds.
Paul Harrison, from Barnsley, bought 700,000 used stamps, washed them so they appeared new and sold them to unsuspecting victims on Amazon and eBay.
Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court, Harrison admitted to money laundering and supplying articles for fraud, and was jailed for four years.
Samantha Harrison was convicted of money laundering but her two-year sentence was suspended and she was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
An investigation started in February 2015 when a large number of envelopes were rejected in a Glasgow sorting office.
Tests showed that there was no phosphor on the stamps, and authorities traced them back to the Harrisons.
Phosphor is used on stamps because it shines under ultraviolet light, helping post office machines to sort the different types of mail.
When the couple's home was searched, evidence of stamp washing was found.
"This offence involves the obtaining and selling of large quantities of stamps which had already been through the postage system," prosecutor Ben Close said in court.
"They bought second-hand stamps, removed from envelopes, and sold them on so they could be reused.
"Paul Harrison accepts he put them on greaseproof paper to make them appear as if new."
According to Mr Close, stamps and stamp-related products were found "all over the address" alongside towels to dry them.
Harrison worked alongside Graham Rought, who previously admitted to adapting, supplying and possessing articles for fraud and money laundering.
Harrison would sometimes contact Rought for advice on how to wash the stamps correctly.
In a bizarre twist to the case, Mr Close said: "There were some flirtatious exchanges between them because Rought thought he was speaking to Samantha Harrison."
He was given an 18 months sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 85 hours of unpaid work.
Mr Close said Rought, a former dental technician, had been part of the fraud for two-and-a-half years and "was involved in washing off the franking marks".
More than $A400,000 entered an account held by the Harrisons, and Rought profited more than $A81,000.
Harrison's actions cost the Royal Mail nearly $A800,000.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission