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Drug dealer who sold deadly ‘weight loss pills’ pays back £23,000 in first Monero cryptocurrency payout

|News, Proceeds of crime

A British man convicted of selling a deadly substance that was falsely marketed as a ‘weight loss’ drug has been forced to hand over £23,000 that he made from his crime. 

The amount that Jack Finney, 28, was forced to pay back included a quantity of Monero cryptocurrency that was sold off by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for £15,000. Monero cryptocurrency is a privacy coin and cannot be tracked and traced. Monero has been adopted by criminals to conduct transactions on the dark web. This makes Monero very difficult to convert to cash. It is the first time that a case prosecuted by the CPS has led to Monero being converted.

The remainder of the money came from the sale of Finney’s Suzuki Vitara SUV for £6,240, and a further £1,775 in cash.

Finney was jailed for 28 months in December 2021 after pleading guilty at Chester Crown Court to a number of offences including the sale of 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), a highly toxic industrial chemical that he was illegally selling on the dark web as a diet pill for weight loss. DNP can cause serious harm to humans and has resulted in at least 33 deaths across the UK to date.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service said: 

“It’s taken several years to secure full justice, but we have ensured Jack Finney will never see £23,000 he made from selling lethal so-called ‘weight loss’ drugs and anabolic steroids over the dark web.

“This is the first case where we have converted Monero currency into cash. This shows that criminals cannot hide their money in any cryptocurrencies in the hope it will be safe from the authorities.

“We will continue to go after him for the remaining amount if he comes into more money so this is not the end of our pursuit of his dirty money.”

Andrew Quinn, Head of the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit, said: 

“We welcome the court’s decision to force Jack Finney to hand over the £23,000 that he made from selling lethal substances on the dark web, and we hope it sends a strong message to anyone else who is seeking to profit from illegal sales. 

“No matter what format currency is in, we will find it and confiscate it.

“The NFCU has a close working partnership with local authorities and other law enforcement agencies, both in the UK and abroad. Together, we continue to pursue and bring to justice those who endanger the public and break the law.”

Detective Sergeant David MacFarlane from Cheshire Police’s Cyber Crime Unit said:

“The Cheshire Cyber Crime Unit conducted the initial seizure of the cryptocurrency. This posed several challenges due to the particular type of cryptocurrency; however, these were overcome and has resulted in the forfeiture of the funds by the National Food Crime Unit, part of the Food Standards Agency, who we have supported throughout the investigation.

“As demonstrated throughout this joint operation, robust action will be taken against those who choose to profit from putting members of the public in danger with the illegal sale of lethal substances.

“This case should serve as a deterrent to those who think they can get away with committing these types of offences – crime does not pay.”

A Financial Investigator from the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit worked with the CPS to take Finney back to court and used the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to force him to pay back any money he had made. The court ruled that the total amount that Finney made from his offending was £180,894 but ordered him to pay back £23,000 as that was all that was available to him at the time. If he comes into more money, then specialist lawyers in the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division can take him back to court to get back the rest of the £180,894.

If he had failed to pay the amount, then eight months would have been added onto his sentence.

In October 2023 DNP was classed as a poison by the Home Office. 

Notes to editors

Jack Edward Finney (DOB 25/4/1996) pleaded guilty to eight counts on 23 November 2021 and was sentenced on 21 December:

•    Sold Viagra, which was not subject to general sale.
•    Knowingly offered for sale and place on the market a foodstuff namely Dinitrophenol reasonably expected for human consumption, to persons unknown, which did not meet with the specific EU regulation. 
•    Knowingly concerned in a fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on importation of anabolic steroids.
•    Sold a prescription only medicine, namely anti oestrogens, which was not in accordance with a prescription given by an appropriate practitioner.
•    Rendered food injurious to health by adding 2,4-Dinitrophenol with the intent that it should be sold for human consumption.
•    Supplied anabolic steroids, a controlled drug of class C.
•    Possession of anabolic steroids a controlled drug of class C with intent to supply it to others.
•    Possession of a medicinal products to which regulation 214(1) applies, namely anti oestrogens, a prescription only medicine, with intent to supply it to another otherwise than in accordance with a prescription of an appropriate practitioner.
Finney was ordered to pay back £23,000 in July 2022 and did so by April 2024.

Adrian Foster is a Chief Crown Prosecutor in the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division.

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