A judge at a court in Baden-Württemberg sentenced a 23-year-old to a two year suspended sentence for buying counterfeit euros on the darknet. The circumstances surrounding the lenient sentence surprised even the defendant himself as he had a criminal record with 12 entries. The 12 crimes the defendant had previously committed included an almost identical counterfeit crime. “Another jam and you’re in jail,” the judge told the 23-year-old.
The court heard how the man, in January 2017, had ordered 50 euro notes from a counterfeiting workshop in Austria. He said he spent 400 euros in Bitcoin for the notes. (The notes were 50 euro notes.) He circulated the equivalent of 2,500 euros with counterfeit 50 notes. Like an increasing number of counterfeit buyers in Germany, he slipped up and the police caught him. The case grew even more complicated once the authorities discovered that the man had recently gotten out of prison for theft and had not gotten off probation.
In March 2017, the defendant did it again. This time he had purchased 10 50-euro notes from a darknet vendor in the Netherlands. He said he had spent 200 euros for the notes. He never ended up circulating them, though; he told the court that the quality of the notes was incredibly low. Instead of circulating them or throwing them away, the man has them on his PC’s housing unit.
On March 30, 2017, law enforcement discovered that the man had been ordering counterfeit euros from around the world via the darknet. They raided his apartment and found the fake 50s he had stashed inside his computer’s housing space. According to Prosecutor Martin Hengstler, the man’s computer contained numerous references to counterfeit euros and the darknet. He also had an “anonymous browser” used to access darknet marketplaces.
The defendant made a case for his freedom that the district court director Martin Reuff took to heart. From September 2015 to August 2016, the defendant had been in prison for various unrelated crimes. He said that he had trained as a carpenter in prison and continued this work after he finished his sentence. He worked in the carpentry field after prison but needed to stop due to an allergy to wood dust. His sudden lack of employment led to “frustration” about his lack of income.
His frustration led to his decision to purchase counterfeit notes on the darknet. He said that he tried it twice because he had no money and owed nearly 10,000 euros to various parties. In Fall 2017, the defendant explained, he had started working as a caterer. “Going back to jail would be a big blow for me,” the defendant told the court.
The man’s lawyer, Robert Bäumel, explained that the 23-year-old had a stable income of 700 to 750 euros per month. The defendant had been paying off the debt he owed with the new income. He had apparently never had a fixed income until his catering work began. The defendant had complied with his probation officer following the arrest for counterfeit currency and had not slipped up since the arrest. Because of the way the 23-year-old’s life had turned around, the lawyer argued that a suspended sentence was appropriate.
Prosecutor Martin Hengstler disagreed. He asked the court for a prison sentence of two years and four months. Judge Martin Reuff disagreed with the prosecutor. He sentenced the defendant to two years in probation. “Another jam and you’re in jail,” the judge warned.