A family man from Cologne, Germany was sentenced for trying to put counterfeit euro notes into circulation, which he bought from the dark web.
Mike K. (his name was changed for privacy reasons), a 24-year-old family man was sitting in the courtroom for the charge of forgery on March 11. According to official court documents, the defendant ordered four pieces of counterfeit 50 euro notes from a dark net vendor costing him 43.5 euros. After the fake bills were delivered to his address, he tried to use one of the notes to pay for a pizza he ordered. However, the quality of the bills was so bad that the delivery man immediately recognized that the money the 24-year-old tried to pay with is fake, and alerted police.
After they examined the notes, law enforcement authorities found a connection with a Bavarian counterfeit vendor duo. The investigation revealed that the fake bills were coming from already convicted dark net sellers. Officials identified the connection by looking at the serial numbers on the bills.
The 24-year-old admitted his crimes, and said that ordering the notes “was not the smartest decision.”
The father, who has a small daughter at the age of two, was sentenced to six months in prison. The 24-year-old received a harsher sentence since he was already convicted of theft, property damage and unauthorized arms possession.
The Bavarian vendor duo, who sold the counterfeit bills to the 24-year-old, was arrested in 2016. Law enforcement authorities started investigating the case in early 2016 when they received information on a currency counterfeiting operation in Geisenhausen. Later on, police discovered that the 22-year-old Daniel T. and the 24-year-old Arthur K. were running a vendor shop selling fake euro bills to customers from a garage they rented.
According to a local news outlet, the investigation began after law enforcement authorities received an anonymous tip. The tipster, possibly the landlord, claimed that the two men spent an unusual amount of time in the garage, and carried trash bags routinely from inside to a nearby, openly visible location. When investigators searched the bags, they discovered numerous remains of counterfeit 50 euro bills. After law enforcement authorities gathered enough evidence of the duo, they raided the garage of the suspects residence.
Officials seized 2,856 holograms, computers, three inkjet printers, and large quantities of paper designed for printing euros. Cutting tools, chemicals for the treatment of printed notes, and 50 counterfeit euros were also found. Authorities claim that the holograms were purchased from a vendor on the dark web.
Based on the evidence investigators gathered and individual testimonies, law enforcement authorities discovered that the two men were running a seller shop on the dark net selling counterfeit 50 euro bills to customers on an international level. In an initial search, police discovered about 200 postal documents detailing the online transactions of the duo. The documents revealed the country where the sellers shipped the fake euro bills, along with the name and the address of the recipients.
“It is already known that shipments of counterfeits have arrived with respective note numbers. To clarify further Gerechtshof ought and their reach, the investigation will continue for this purpose,” an LKA official said during the hearing.
According to the prosecution, the duo produced about 5,000 pieces of counterfeit 50 euro bills, which would be $276,362 worth of fake currency. The two suspects sold the counterfeit notes for 20 percent of the original price (10 euros for a 50 euro bill), investigators claim.
Authorities from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria reported that they were on a high alert on the counterfeit bills the vendor duo sold. According to the court documents, 1,227 pieces of the fake notes were delivered to customers just in the three European countries.
Both defendants showed cooperation with authorities, which resulted in a mitigated sentence. The 22-year-old Daniel T. was convicted of commercial counterfeiting and possession of stolen goods. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. His accomplice, the 24-year-old Arthur K., was charged only with commercial counterfeiting. He was sentenced to three years and two months in prison.