Counterfeit euros, according to law enforcement worldwide—but especially in Germany—circulated more rapidly than ever before. The notes became readily accessible to the public because of the increased usage of darknet marketplaces and other similar shops. Many reports from law enforcement agencies throughout Germany announced seemingly contradictory data regarding counterfeit euros. The German Federal Police Office announced that counterfeit bills circulated at an all-time high in 2016. According to BZberlin.de, the Brandenburg police recently reported the opposite.
Some trends notably remained unchanged; the type of bill most counterfeited, for instance, continued to be the same. Similarly, some incidents crossed boundaries—in a sense. One example, the journalist explained, pertained to the two counterfeiters who printed out of a garage. They left trash bags full of poorly made notes or just the useless remainder of a batch, but from what law enforcement knew, counterfeit 500 notes came only from those two. Another and more recent example is that of the international takedown of a massive counterfeiting ring.
The group of counterfeiters sold top-tier counterfeits via real world transactions and the darknet. As of late, the group—known as the Napoli Group—only used the darknet. In the most recent bust, the counterfeiters sold on various marketplaces with the pseudonym “the Napoli Group” (or NapoliGroup). However, in the past, someone sold TNG counterfeits under a different username. After the arrests had taken place, Europol issued a press release that mentioned only eight operatives. Carmine Guerriero, one of the eight, controlled the darknet vending accounts while his mother, sisters, and cousin performed more of the groundwork.
Some speculated that Guerriero ran a personal account for money on the side, hence the same notes from multiple vendors. Guerriero forged the most realistic euros that any could buy, both the internet and local sources agreed. He once passed off a non-existent Euro note at a bank. Not only did Guerriero create a Euro note that the government never created, but he crafted the note to such perfection that a bank failed to notice.
At one point in time, NapoliGroup produced 90 percent of the counterfeit currency in circulation. That number dropped off slightly after 2014, but the NapoliGroup conducted business in the major league. However, Guerriero’s arrest—along with the detention of any associates—inherently cut down on the number of fake Euros floating around Germany. And likewise, would confirm the Brandenburg Police Department’s findings.
The Department announced that officers seized 793 fakes during the first half of 2015. In the first half of 2016, though, police found only 610 fake Euros—30 percent less than 2015. Police noted a further decline; the number of 20-euro notes dropped significantly. According to the Brandenburg Police Department, authorities collected 430 counterfeit 20-euro notes in 2015. During the same period in 2016, the same authorities only seized 131 of said notes.