FORGERY GANG AIMED TO MAKE MINT OUT OF TARTAN ARMY; Plot to Use Fans as Front for Scam

Article excerpt

Forgery gang jailed for more than 26 years yesterday planned to use the Tartan Army as cover to flood England with fake banknotes.

The crooks - dubbed the Del Boy Gang because of their wide-boy image - hoped to send couriers to the Euro 96 football tournament disguised as Scotland fans.

The "mules" would rake in a fortune by spreading forged fivers and pounds 20 notes all over London and Birmingham, where the team's group games were played.

The gang's Glasgow printing plant could churn out pounds 1million every two hours - enough to throw the economy into chaos.

It was the biggest counterfeiting operation in Scotland's history.

But the feckless forgers gave themselves away with a string of blunders, and their plans were foiled by a police blitz dubbed Operation Wembley.

Ringleaders Thomas McAnea, 48, and Raymond Dean, 44, were sent down for 10 years and eight- and-half years respectively.

Master printer John McGregor got five years, graphic designer Iain Ruxton two years, and printer Dennis McGinnis 12 months.

The sixth member, go-between Geoffrey Renshaw, escaped with a pounds 1000 fine.

Police first heard of the Del Boy gang when underworld sources starting warning of the Tartan Army plot.

The forgers had been boozing it up in pubs around Glasgow's Trongate, bragging of how they'd be millionaires in a year.

They even showed off their wares - counterfeit Clydesdale fivers and Bank of England pounds 20 notes.

One Trongate publican said: "This team seemed determined to tell of their activities.

"They'd drink all day, apparently work all night on their printing presses, then come back and tell the punters what they were doing.

"Once, one of them even brought in fake notes as proof."

"They were a jolly bunch," added the publican.

"They seemed to enjoy their work and were always having a laugh, although few believed what they were actually doing."

Dean, the former boss of a legitimate printing firm, set up the scam in a former joiner's workshop in Partick, Glasgow, he rented from the local Orange Lodge.

But he never took down the old joiner's sign, and police watching the plant soon noticed no wood was going in or out.

They moved in to break up the operation and arrest the forgers.

But the brazen gang set up another counterfeiting plant while on bail, this time producing Danish Kroner.

Dean and McAnea, another ex-printing boss whose business had gone bust, hoped to get rid of the Kroner through contacts in Denmark.

But they were arrested again after dopey Dean put out four rubbish bags full of forged duty-free vouchers, printing plates and sheets of fake 500 Kroner notes. …