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Counterfeit Currency

Spanish police dismantle sophisticated counterfeit euro note print shop

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Police in Spain have broken up a gang behind the “most active” counterfeit euro note printing operation that has ever been discovered in the country.

In a Europol-backed operation, officers from Spain’s Policía Nacional arrested four people and seized fake banknotes worth €15,500 ($17,371).

Investigators said the organised criminal network behind the conspiracy, which was based in Tenerife, ran a sophisticated operation in which they printed fake €10 and €20 notes, raking in some €7,500 every month.

Police launched a probe into the gang’s activities in July 2018 when banks in Tenerife reported a marked increase in the number of fake €10 banknotes in circulation on the island.

Officers working on Operation Malla soon discovered that the convincing fakes were also being distributed across Europe.

During a raid on one Tenerife property that resulted in the arrest of the four suspects, police found a sophisticated printing system capable of producing counterfeit banknotes and fake ID.

Officers also seized computer and printing equipment, along with fake banknotes at various points of the production process.

Specialist Spanish counterfeit investigators said they were surprised at the quality of the fake notes, as well as the sophistication of the equipment that was used to produce them.

In a statement, Europol said: “[We] supported this operation by providing financial, technical and analytical support from the beginning and deploying a mobile office on the action day for on-the-spot support.

“As the European Union’s Central Office for Combating Euro Counterfeiting, Europol facilitates the exchange of information and provides expertise, criminal and forensic analysis, training, financial and technical support to law enforcement agencies inside and outside the European Union.”

Spanish police have advised members of the public to follow EU guidance on how to spot fake banknotes.

The European Central Bank (ECB) recommends that consumers use its “feel, look and tilt” method if they have any concerns that a banknote in their possession might be counterfeit.

The bank says that euro notes should feel crisp and firm, and that some sections should feel thicker than others.

When held up to the light, a watermark should become visible in the portrait window of euro banknotes, as should a security thread close to their centre.

If a genuine euro banknote is tilted, its silvery stripe should reveal a portrait of Europa in a transparent window, while an emerald number displays an effect of light moving up and down.

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Police in Europe arrest hundreds in operation targeting euro banknote dark web counterfeiters

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Police forces across Europe have participated in a major joint operation targeting euro banknote counterfeiters operating on dark web illicit marketplaces.

A series of Europol-backed days of action, which took place from 19 November to 6 December, involved raids on more than 300 properties in 13 countries, resulting in the arrests of 235 suspects.

During the raids, a number of criminal assets were seized, including €1,500 (£1,713) in cash, a quantity of drugs, electronic devices including smartphones and computers, Bitcoin, and equipment that had been used for the mining of cryptocurrencies.

A number of weapons were also confiscated during the raids, including guns, knives and nunchaku.

German investigators involved in the operation also discovered two cannabis factories, while police in France uncovered an illegal euro counterfeiting print shop, as well as a marijuana planation.

The crackdown was launched after police in Austria dismantled an illegal banknote print shop in the city of Leoben in June of this year.

The owner of the shop is said to have been producing bogus euro banknotes of various denominations before offering them for sale on dark web marketplaces.

It is thought the Austrian counterfeiter sold some 10,000 fake banknotes to customers all over Europe.

After being handed evidence seized during the raid in Austria, Europol analysed data obtained from the alleged counterfeiter’s computer and decided to launch a coordinated operation targeting other bogus banknote traders in a number of EU countries, including Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Congratulating officers who took part in the operation, Europol Deputy Executive Director of Operations Wil van Gemert said in a statement: “This joint effort highlights that complete anonymity on the internet and the dark net doesn’t exist.

“When you engage in illegal activity online, be prepared to have police knocking on your door sooner or later.

“Europol will continue to assist member states in their efforts of protecting the euro against counterfeiting, both in the real world as in the virtual one.”

Back in September, Europol announced that Polish police had taken down an illegal print shop in Gdansk that had been producing fake €50 banknotes.

The law enforcement agency said the alleged owner of the facility had been selling counterfeits on a number of dark web platforms for many years, and had built up a strong reputation.

He is currently facing up to 25 years behind bars.

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Three European police forces break up major counterfeit currency rings

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Police from Italy and France have broken up two organised criminal networks that are said to have been involved in the production and distribution of bogus banknotes across Europe.

Members of the two groups stand accused of producing fake notes in a number of denominations, including €20, €50 and €100, and of distributing counterfeit currency that caused economic damage estimated to be worth €4.5 million.

The Europol-backed operation that resulted in the disruption of the two gangs began earlier this year when investigators in France received intelligence relating to the distribution of counterfeit currency.

A subsequent probe led to the discovery of a Naples-based organised crime group that was producing the fake banknotes before shipping them off to a second gang in the French city of Nancy.

Once the French gang received the counterfeit notes, its members distributed them for circulation in France and other EU member states.

A Europol-assisted joint day of action that involved raids in both Italy and France last week resulted in the arrests of nine people in France.

In Italy, 14 members of the Naples-based gang were detained, while investigators also seized print shop equipment used to make the counterfeit notes.

News of the gangs’ break-up comes days after police in Bulgaria said they had made the largest seizure of counterfeit cash in the country for more than a decade.

A raid at a print shop in the Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach resulted in the seizure of fake euro and dollar bills with a face value of more than $14.3 million.

The discovery of the print shop was the culmination of a 10-month investigation conducted by Bulgaria’s interior ministry in cooperation with Europol and US intelligence.

Speaking during a press conference attended by Bulgaria’s Focus News Agency, Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev said: “We haven’t done a historical analysis, it could well be the biggest for the past 20 or 30 years.

“We found over €11 million and over $1.8 million in a different degree of completeness.”

The investigation resulted in the arrest of four suspects while they were in the process of making fake banknotes.

In a statement issued at the end of July, the European Central Bank said euro banknote counterfeiting remained low in first half of 2018, with 301,000 fake euro notes being withdrawn from circulation over the first six months of the year.

The majority of these (83%) were €20 and €50 banknotes.

 

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Indo-Bangla officials call for greater action on cross-border counterfeit currency smuggling

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Border officials from India and Bangladesh have met in New Delhi to discuss new ways of working together to prevent human trafficking, drug smuggling and the illegal transfer of counterfeit currency between the two countries.

At the end of a six-day summit, representatives from India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) agreed that while the smuggling of fake Indian currency across the countries’ shared  border had dropped “considerably” after the Indian government removed high-value banknotes from circulation in 2016, the transfer of counterfeit cash remained a significant issue.

In veiled criticism of Pakistan, BSF chief KK Sharma said counterfeit Indian banknotes were being produced by a “friendly neighbour”, which was using Bangladesh as a transport hub for the fake currency.

Sharma noted that the quality of faked bank notes appeared to have deteriorated since demonetisation, during which 500 and 1,000-rupee banknotes were withdrawn in a bid to crack down on widespread counterfeiting and corruption.

In an official statement, the agencies said: “The BSF DG appreciated the efforts of BGB and other security forces of Bangladesh against smuggling of fake currency notes and sought further cooperation in detecting such units in Bangladesh and legal prosecution of defaulters.

“DG BGB stated that law enforcement agencies of Bangladesh were taking action against fake currency note racketeers and side by side the government has already placed fake currency detecting machines at all integrated check posts (ICPs) and many other places across the country.”

The statement went on to say that each country was grateful for the other’s efforts to prevent the smuggling of counterfeit Indian currency, as well as the trafficking of drugs into Bangladesh, and that both had pledged to continue their efforts in this regard.

The two nations also agreed to take greater action on deaths related to the human trafficking trade that take place across the Indo-Bangla border.

Both countries said they would take steps to boost security measures along their shared border as part of a joint effort to improve how they target human trafficking networks.

Officials on both sides agreed they should also improve support for victims of human trafficking in a bid to speed up their rehabilitation and allow them to return to a normal life more quickly.

Yesterday, Asian Age reported that police in India had arrested a human trafficker from Bangladesh who lured young women over the border with promises of jobs, only to force them into the sex trade when they arrived in India.

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