Paper Money

Pensioner in Italy loses euro notes in recycled photocopy machine

A pensioner in Italy reportedly forgot that he had left €200 and €500 bank notes in an old photocopy machine and surrendered it for recycling. The notes, similar to what appears above, were reportedly destroyed.

Original images courtesy of the European Central Bank.

When it comes to hiding cash, sometimes the old fashioned way, such as in a mattress, is still best. It is certainly better than hiding it in a photocopy machine.

That was recently discovered by a 70-year-old pensioner from the small town of Chiampo in the Italian province of Vicenza. Italian news accounts say he hid a million euros worth of €200 and €500 notes, not the most commonly used denominations, in the drawers of a photocopier. Then he forgot.

When he no longer had any use for the old machine, being a dutiful and law-abiding citizen, he turned it over to a company that specializes in recycling hazardous waste. Under Italian law, once an item is turned over to a landfill, it becomes the landfill’s property. The company did what it was supposed to do. Its workers checked that there was no toner remaining in the machine, but did not look into the paper drawers before it destroyed the device in a set of rollers.

All that was left of the currency, according to workers who were there, was fuchsia and yellow confetti on the rollers.

Only after that did the former owner recognize his mistake. He went to the municipal offices, and, says the Corriere del Veneto newsletter and others, explained in agitated fashion that he had to recover his old photocopier at all costs because he had left a will and some pension money inside. He did not specify the amount, but that even though he indicated it was a small amount, it was important to him. Officials made some calls and confirmed that the machine and its contents were destroyed.

An official at the recycling center explained, “The first time they asked us if we had already disposed of the photocopier. The second they told of an elderly man who was in panic because he claimed that he had left an important will inside one of the machines and had to retrieve it. But on the second phone call we had already seen the confetti of the banknotes.”

The matter is now in the hands of the Financial Police.

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