Two 18-year-olds were arrested in Forcheim, Germany for trying to pay with counterfeit euro bills in a Christmas market. The suspects, both from Neustädt, were intercepted by an attentive shop owner who unmasked the forgery by checking the 50 euro bill the alleged criminals used to pay with a money check pin.
Forcheim local police detained the suspects shortly after the incident at the Christmas market but the Bamberg police took over the investigation and advised other owners in the area as further counterfeit bills could be in circulation. After the arrest took place, law enforcement authorities found another five 50 euro bills (in addition to the one they tried to use) in the possession of the two 18-year-olds.
The suspects admitted that they had already paid successfully with three bills in the Christmas market, this is the reason why police advised sellers in the area to be more attentive. Investigators at the Bamberg police uncovered that the duo bought the counterfeit banknotes from the dark web. According to them, the dark net is a place for the “procurement and the placing on the market of counterfeit money.”
Some might think that the offense of the two 18-year-olds’ is a trivial crime, however, as of German laws, this crime can be punished with at least one year of imprisonment.
Recently, a joint law enforcement action involving the Europol, Spanish, Italian, German, Maltese and Portuguese police conducted a massive raid on counterfeit money sellers. The investigation took place in Naples, Italy, which is a city infamous of its organized criminal activity. Authorities tracked down the organization who produced around 600,000 fake euro bills in Europe. Europol arrested eight key suspects in the case while several countries involved in the operation detained additional criminals involved in the process in their own countries.
The first warrant was executed in Naples by the Special Unit Currency Police and the Tax Police Unit of the Guardia. 16 suspects were identified by the Public Prosecutor of Brescia within the country. The warrant ordered the detention of four alleged criminals while one of them was jailed and three were put under house arrest meanwhile. Law enforcement authorities seized about 7,700,000 euros during the action.
The Judge for Preliminary Investigations charged seven suspects with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, money laundering, and unauthorized financial (also credit) collection. The investigation was carried out under the constant guidance from the Public Prosecutor at the Ordinary Court of Brescia, local authorities in Lugano, and police from the Republic of San Marino. The operation could be considered as successful since many criminals were identified from the organization. Italian authorities traced bank account transfers and searched the institutions for suspected criminal holdings.
According to police information, the group operated under several usernames on the dark web, such as “NapoliGroup” who sold counterfeit euro banknotes conducted investment scams. One of the criminals operated the vendor shop who was known in the dark net community as “Warrior”. The organization sold the fake euros at 30 percent of the actual bills’ face value. The suspects traded the bitcoins they gathered in Maltese exchanges and released the funds over time.