Crooks abuse encrypted chat to sell fake euros, get busted by international police forces

Europol and various European law enforcement agencies have thwarted a sophisticated counterfeit banknote ring in Italy, recovering over €100,000 in fake banknotes and €10,000 in cryptocurrencies.

On June 10th, 2024, in a small Italian city, the Italian Carabinieri apprehended a cash counterfeiter and destroyed what Europol called “a sophisticated counterfeiting print shop.”

The agents recovered a swathe of counterfeit currency and thousands in cryptocurrency.

Individuals who bought large amounts of fake banknotes in Italy and France were also arrested.

Law enforcement across various European countries has been tracking the suspects since February.

The crooks produced “highly convincing counterfeit euro banknotes” and sold them via a popular encrypted messaging platform.

When agents entered the area, they observed fake euro notes in amounts ranging from €5 to €50. Officers at the scene confiscated various pieces of equipment used to create the false currency. The forgers' electronic devices and online encrypted channel were also seized.

When examined by the European Central Bank, they explained that the forged security features present within the banknotes were of high quality.

Countries such as Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Luxembourg have reported an increased amount of high-quality counterfeit currency in circulation. Europol assisted these countries in “developing an intelligence picture” to thwart the operation.

After tracing 170 sales, investigators found that consumers could order counterfeit euros from a messaging service. The crooks would accept cryptocurrency and then send the fake bills via post.

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