Shoedunnit? Woman sentenced for smuggling cigarettes

The contents of the parcel.
The contents of the parcel.

A Glasgow woman has been sentenced for trying to smuggle more than 19,000 cigarettes by disguising them as shoes.

Xiao Guo, 32, used her Slatefield Street home to receive parcels of cigarettes from China to evade £6,390 in tax, an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs revealed.

A Parcelforce depot in Cambuslang received an anonymous letter in December 2016 claiming Guo was having the illegal cigarettes sent to her home.

The information was passed to HMRC for investigation and several packages addressed to Guo were intercepted at another Cambuslang depot in February 2017.

Each parcel was described as containing shoes but when opened, cigarettes were found inside.

Guo was subsequently arrested and charged with Excise Duty fraud. The total number of cigarettes recovered with no duty paid was 19,500.

Guo admitted attempting to evade £6,390 in Excise Duty at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 10 September 2018. She was sentenced to 190 hours of unpaid work before the same court on 9 October 2018.

An HMRC spokesman said: “This case is a great example of how the public can help us tackle those who think it’s acceptable to pocket taxpayers’ money and undermine legitimate traders.

“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”