A PLANNING enforcement officer hit on a novel idea to try to get rich quick – he printed off his own money!
Ian Michael Andrew, 52, described in court as a pillar of his local community, obtained some Scottish £10 notes while on holiday north of the border.
He took them back to Cheshire and used public photocopying machines such as those in libraries to copy them.
Andrew, said to have become obsessed with saving money after an expensive divorce, decided to try to spend them in Wales, where he thought shop staff might not recognise them as duds.
But he was caught when the Shop Link security system in Wrexham, swung into action and all local stores were warned that there was a man in town with counterfeit money.
Yesterday, his ill-thought out scam landed him with a two-year jail sentence after Andrew admitted passing, possessing and making counterfeit currency notes.
Judge Philip Richards, sitting at Mold Crown Court, told Andrew, he was quite satisfied that he had hoped traders in Wales were less likely to identity the Scottish £10 notes as counterfeit.
He used one in the Iceland store in Wrexham and 15 minutes later went to
W H Smith, where a note was seized.
Police moved in and arrested him in McDonalds, where he was about to buy a meal.
He crumpled the note up in his hand as officers approached. “I got them from Inverness,” he said.
More notes and a map of Wrexham town centre with the names and locations of various stores written upon it were seized, said prosecutor Sandra Subacchi.
At his home in Ruscoe Avenue, Sandbach, police found another 104 notes.
Interviewed, he admitted making the notes on public photocopying machines and said he had done so because of financial hardship following a divorce.
Henry Hills, defending, said Andrew had become obsessed with saving money.
In his depressed and obsessive state, he had committed offences for the first time in his life.
He was scrimping and saving and not eating properly. If there was a buffet at work, he would take home the leftovers.
The notes were crude and it was not a sophisticated offence, Mr Hills said.
The judge said the fact that a criminal was incompetent was not a ground for reducing a sentence.
“They are very serious offences which go to the root of the currency system within the UK,” he said.
When introduced into the commercial market, all those involved including traders and members of the public lost confidence in the genuine currency.
He took into account that he had worked in important positions and made a significant contribution to his community.
There were also references from Ffestiniog Railway Society and St John Ambulance.
“But those factors should have deterred you,” the judge said.