'Kim Kardashian Lookalike' Jailed After Trying to Smuggle Millions In Cash

A British woman who was caught trying to smuggle millions in cash out of the U.K. in suitcases has been jailed.

The country's National Crime Agency (NCA) began investigating 30-year-old Tara Hanlon in October last year, after she was stopped from boarding a flight from London to Dubai.

Hanlon, described by British media outlets as a lookalike of reality television star Kim Kardashian, initially denied having any money, but border officers found almost £2 million ($2.76 million) in cash in vacuum-packed bundles inside five suitcases she had checked in, according to a statement from the agency.

The NCA said the bundles of money had been covered in coffee in an apparent attempt to disguise them from being picked up by sniffer dogs.

Hanlon, of Leeds, was arrested for money laundering.

Tara Hanlon jailed
Tara Hanlon was jailed after being caught trying to smuggle millions in cash out of the U.K. in suitcases. National Crime Agency

Investigators tracked her travel patterns in the months prior to her arrest, discovering she had made three other trips to Dubai in July and August 2020.

Dubai authorities informed the NCA that on each occasion, Hanlon had declared she was carrying more than £1 million in cash upon arrival.

Hanlon admitted to being driven to a hotel in London to pick up the suitcases, and having her flight and hotel bills paid for.

Investigators discovered text messages on her phone that indicated she was being paid about £3,000 for each trip.

In a message to an unidentified person, Hanlon had boasted: "3 big ones...with this wage and the next my debts go bye."

Plan to Recruit Others

Other messages suggested she was looking to recruit others, referring to the job as a "perfect life" with "a few days in the sun and a few at home."

Hanlon later admitted to the money laundering charges.

On Monday, a judge at Isleworth Crown Court sentenced her to two years and 10 months in prison.

"Hanlon smuggled more than £3.5 million criminal cash out of the U.K. and was caught red handed with another £2 million," NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said in a statement.

The money "undoubtedly came from organized crime," Truby added.

"Tara Hanlon thought that she was going to be living a jet-set lifestyle, instead she is now serving a prison sentence. I hope her story is a cautionary one for others who would consider doing the same."

After Hanlon's arrest, a number of other cash couriers were identified and suspected of being linked to the same money laundering network.

Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, 38, was intercepted as he attempted to board a flight from London to Dubai in November last year with £1.3 million in cash in his bags.

Investigators found he had made two previous trips in July and August. Kamaryt pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was given a two-year jail sentence in March.

Eight other people were arrested in a series of raids across the U.K. in May. They were released under investigation while enquiries continue.

Cash found in suitcases
Border officers found almost £2 million ($2.76 million) in cash in vacuum-packed bundles inside five suitcases Hanlon checked in at the airport. National Crime Agency