At the Vienna Regional Criminal Court, an entire “counterfeiting gang” received sentences for producing counterfeit Euro notes and selling them on Alphabay. According to the court, the four members of the so-called “counterfeiting gang” had set up a workshop at a residence in the Landstraße district. The group of Austrians received different sentences based on the roles they played in the conspiracy.
The leader, was a 25-year-old Austrian family man who turned to counterfeiting after he found himself unable to provide for his family. According to the man’s lawyer, the family man somehow landed 150,000 Euros in debt. The 25-year-old found a guide on Google that explained the steps needed to produce fake banknotes. “It was – stupidly speaking – relatively easy,” he told the court.
He then got help from a homeless 25-year-old he had “grown up with,” he told the court. He had shown his friend two 50 notes. One was real and one was fake. The friend could not tell the difference between the two, he said. The friend told the court he had no idea how his friend had been unemployed yet shopped as if he had excess money. They decided to do business together and included a third friend. The third friend, a 23-year-old, had a residence in Landstraße.
The three set up shop in a room at the Landstraße residence. They equipped the room with computers, printers, holograms, dyes, stamps, and other equipment needed to produce fake Euro notes. The gang leader had already learned how to use templates downloaded from the internet and had produced numerous bills on his own. He had apparently gotten talented enough to teach his two co-conspirators how to produce the notes; the 23-year-old worked on preparing the bills by cutting them from sheets and applying necessary pigments or holograms and the second 25-year-old handled shipping, packaging, and trips to and from the bank and shipping stations.
With the groundwork out of the way, the group leader established a brand on Alphabay for counterfeit Euros. He set up shop on both Alphabay and Dream as “VIB” or “Very Important Bills.” The gang sold each 50-Euro note for less than eight Euros. They specialized in only the 50-Euro note, according to the court. They had produced roughly 1,000 notes when things took a turn for the worst. Several of their customers had allegedly gotten busted for spending false Euro notes, but one customer in particular brought the group down when Austrian police caught him using fake Euros.
He had used counterfeits on a semi-frequent basis, he explained during the hearing at Vienna Regional Criminal Court. That hardly mattered, though, as investigators had started moving in on the counterfeiters after the bank reported “new counterfeit 50s of a very low quality.” The police arrested the co-conspirators first and then arrested the 25-year-old leader. In the end, they all confessed to their roles. They also admitted to making only 8,000 Euros during the entire operation.
The leader received a 33-month sentence; The second 25-year-old received a 27-month prison sentence; The 23-year-old received a 21-month prison sentence; and their repeat customer, a “student,” received 14-months.