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Exposed! Inside the Italian Fake Euro Printing Factory Busted by Police



EUR 100,000 in Fake Cash Seized: The Inside Story of the Italian Raid

In a victory for international law enforcement cooperation, a major counterfeiting operation has been shut down in the southern Italian city of Lecce. The Italian Carabinieri police force, backed by Europol and authorities from Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Spain, successfully dismantled a sophisticated counterfeiting ring and arrested one suspect. The operation netted over €100,000 in seized counterfeit euros and €10,000 in cryptocurrencies.

Months-Long Investigation Tracks High-Quality Fake Euros

The investigation leading to this bust began in February 2024 after reports of high-quality counterfeit euro banknotes emerged from several European countries. Europol played a central role from the start, coordinating information exchange between the involved nations (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain) and providing crucial analytical support. This collaboration allowed investigators to track over 170 suspicious sales activities and uncover the criminal group’s operation.

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Encrypted Messaging, Crypto Payments, and Mail Delivery

The investigation revealed that the criminal group, believed to consist of at least three individuals, used a popular encrypted messaging service to advertise and sell counterfeit euro banknotes in various denominations (5, 10, 20, and 50 euros). Potential buyers could reportedly contact the group through this messaging app to place orders. Uniquely, the group allegedly accepted payment exclusively in cryptocurrencies, a digital payment method designed to be difficult to trace. Once payment was received, the counterfeit notes were delivered discreetly through the postal service.

Raid Seizes Printing Equipment and Online Presence

On June 10, 2024, following a months-long investigation, Italian Carabinieri officers executed a raid on the identified counterfeiting print shop location in Lecce. The raid resulted in the arrest of one suspect and the seizure of a significant amount of evidence. This evidence included a complete counterfeiting operation setup, featuring printing and cutting machines used to produce the fake bills. The seized materials also included raw materials for creating banknotes and equipment specifically designed to replicate security features like holograms on genuine euros. The European Central Bank later confirmed the high quality of the forgeries after analyzing the seized materials.

In addition to the physical print shop, authorities also seized the vendors’ electronic devices, effectively shutting down their online channel used to advertise and sell the counterfeit currency. This two-pronged approach aimed to cripple the group’s ability to both produce and distribute counterfeit euros.

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Europol’s Role in International Cooperation

Europol’s contribution to this successful operation went beyond facilitating information exchange. They also provided financial and technical support to the participating countries throughout the investigation. On the day of the raid itself, a Europol expert was deployed to Italy to offer on-site assistance. This expert helped verify the gathered intelligence against Europol’s databases and the European Central Bank’s systems, ensuring a smooth and successful operation.

Importance of Collaboration Highlighted

This major counterfeiting bust in Lecce underscores the critical importance of international cooperation in combating sophisticated criminal activities. By working together across borders, law enforcement agencies were able to dismantle a major criminal group and prevent the circulation of high-quality counterfeit euros within the European Union. This successful operation serves as a testament to the effectiveness of coordinated international efforts in safeguarding the integrity of the euro currency.

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