Sophisticated Banknote Print Shop Dismantled In Italy

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The Italian Carabinieri arrested June 10 a money counterfeiter and dismantled a sophisticated counterfeiting print shop. The raid, which resulted in the seizure of over EUR100,000 in counterfeit banknotes and over EUR10,000 in cryptocurrencies, was preceded by the arrests of buyers of large quantities of fake banknotes in Italy and France, Europol said.

Coordinated by Europol, investigators from law enforcement authorities in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain had been tracking down the criminal group, which consists of two further accused individuals, since February 2024. The forgers are responsible for producing highly convincing counterfeit euro banknotes, which they offered for sale via a popular encrypted messenger service.

Europol said that during the raid, officers seized the print shop used to counterfeit euro banknotes of various denominations (5, 10, 20 and 50). It was equipped with the tools and materials used to produce highly sophisticated counterfeits. Officers at the scene confiscated printing and cutting machines, as well as raw materials for the banknotes and their security features.

Analysis by the European Central Bank confirmed that the forged security features on the banknotes, such as holograms, were of high quality. The Carabinieri also seized the vendors’ electronic devices as well as their online channel used to advertize and sell the fake banknotes, according to Europol.

Payment in cryptocurrencies and delivery via post

Following reports of high-quality counterfeit banknotes in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain, Europol supported these countries in developing an intelligence picture. Tracing over 170 sales activities, investigators discovered that buyers could order counterfeit euro notes of various denominations via a dedicated communication channel. The producers would accept payment in cryptocurrencies and arrange for the fake bills to be sent via post, Europol said.

In addition to facilitating the information exchange, Europol said it financed and coordinated several operational activities. Europol also provided analytical support to identify countries where the counterfeit currency was distributed. On the action day, a Europol expert was deployed in Italy to provide technical support and cross-check the operational information against Europol’s databases and the systems of the European Central Bank.

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