A counterfeiting gang who produced £700,000 in forged £20 notes from a flat in Seaforth, Merseyside were jailed for a total of 13 years.
The three men used shop- bought computers, printers and ink cartridges to make tens of thousands of fake notes and then sold them to be passed into the community.
The illegal currency ending up as far afield as Cornwall, the West Midlands and Hertfordshire.
More than 30,000 counterfeit £20 notes were produced between late 2010 and August last year and £650,000 worth eventually found its way into the economy.
The criminals were collared after staff at a printing company became suspicious about the amount they were buying and called the police.
Undercover surveillance tracked John Reilly, 21, and Christopher O’Driscoll, 31, as they bought specialist foil, using false names, as well as boxes of computer equipment, printer paper and ink.
Detectives tracked them to their “factory”, a flat in Bower Grove, Seaforth.
On August 25 last year Reilly, of Marsh Road, Frodsham, and O’Driscoll, of Oil Street, Vauxhall, were caught red-handed in Great Howard Street in a white Transit van stuffed with counterfeit notes, boxes of paper and receipts from Cartridge World and Staples.
When their flat was raided they found the third conspirator, Irishman Joshua Lee – who got involved while on holiday in the UK – as well as computers, printers and £40,000 in fake notes.
The three pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to make counterfeit currency. Judge Thomas Teague QC said Reilly and O’Driscoll would have got seven-and-a-half years each after a trial but reduced it to five years because of guilty pleas.
Joshua Lee, who is of no fixed address, was jailed for three years for being a “hired hand".