A MAJOR tobacco fraud investigation swooped on the home of an Oxfordshire man suspected of selling counterfeit cigarettes on Facebook.

Police, trading standards officers and staff from HM Revenue and Customers stormed the home in Benson near Wallingford last week.

As well as seizing 3,500 fake cigarettes the squad also took more than 12kg of suspected counterfeit tobacco.

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The HMRC team also seized the man's BMW, suspecting that it was used to transport the contraband.

The man is now being investigated by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards for alleged breaches for criminal law, and the team have put out a stern warning to anyone in the county thinking of selling fake or smuggled tobacco on social media – 'expect to get caught'.

The Oxford Times:

Councillor Judith Heathcoat said: "We all know the risks associated with smoking and the best decision any smoker can make for their health is to stop.

"Peddling counterfeit tobacco at pocket-money prices is not only a serious crime it can undermine a person’s efforts to quit whilst its ready availability helps recruit the next generation of smokers.

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"Fake cigarettes also fail to extinguish themselves when left to burn, presenting a real danger to safety in the home."

Latest figures show that tobacco fraud costs the UK nearly £2 billion a year with one-in-three pouches of hand-rolling tobacco consumed coming from an illicit source. Smoking-related illness costs the NHS more than £2 billion annually.