A father and son who masterminded a counterfeit currency scam in Holmfirth have been ordered to pay back almost a quarter of a million pounds between them.

Christopher Gaunt, 59, and his son Jordan, 27, from Holmfirth, were ordered to pay the money back at a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Leeds Crown Court. Confiscation proceedings were brought by the Economic Crime Unit.

The pair had both pleaded guilty in 2022 to the making of counterfeit currency with intent to pass or tender as genuine following a joint investigation by West Yorkshire Police and the National Counterfeit Currency Unit (UKNCO) at the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Christopher Gaunt was sentenced to six and a half years for the currency offence, and possession with intent to supply cannabis in December 2022. Jordan Gaunt, meanwhile, was given a two-year suspended sentence for the currency offence.

At the hearing it was ruled that Christopher Gaunt had accrued a benefit of £217,390.47 from crime and was ordered to pay this exact sum back.  

Jordan Gaunt was judged to have benefited by £6,114.14 from crime and ordered to pay a total of £3,840.32 which he was judged to have available.

Both men must pay the confiscation orders in full by October 6 2023, or face a possible increase to their custodial sentences.

Christopher Gaunt

Investigations into the pair began in 2020 after the Kirklees Proceeds of Crime Team were contacted by the NCA who had been making enquiries into the suspected circulation of counterfeit bank notes. The forgeries included a variety of notes including English and Scottish currency.
Enquiries led officers to Christopher Gaunt who was arrested on October 8 2020. On searching his Bank Street home immediately after the arrest police found around £200,000 of forged old style paper currency as well as production equipment. A cannabis factory was also located at the property.

A search on the same day of another premises managed by him on Wakefield Road in Scissett, led to officers recovering more equipment, such as dyes and printers, used in the production of forgeries. 
It is believed the notes themselves were intended for sale to contacts in the criminal underworld.

Chief Insp 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 hard 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.”