Paper Money

Brazilian officials step up efforts to stop counterfeit production

Brazil Federal Police officials are cracking down on counterfeiting operations in the country, as organized crime gets more brazen in marketing fake notes.

Images courtesy of Brazil Federal Police.

The foundation InsightCrime is dedicated to the study of organized crime, which it says is the principal threat to national and citizen security in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The group recently turned its attention to Brazil where authorities have recently dismantled several large, sophisticated counterfeit cash rings who used their technological know-how to print fake bank notes

In December, some Brazilian websites were discovered selling fake notes of 50-, 100- and 200-real denominations (convertible to $10, $20 and $40), according to an investigation by a technology website, TecMundo. The perpetrators advertised their counterfeit currency “as a way to increase your income,” bragging that their counterfeiters had “nine years of experience,” so their notes would pass counterfeit pen and ultraviolet light testing. Google was one of their promotional strategies.

In November, São Paulo police broke up another operation that placed over 10 million reais (convertible to about $1.85 million) of fakes into circulation, said another web service, Universo Online. Police directly seized about 500,000 reais in that raid.

Prior to that, in early July, federal police shut down a press shop in São Paulo, where they confiscated 77,980 fake notes totaling over 2 million reais (convertible to $370,000).

Also in July, in a raid called Operation Pirita, the Federal Police eliminated a counterfeiting workshop in Rio Grande do Sul. And in September, they broke up one that had printed over 10 million reais ($2 million) worth of 10-, 20-, 50-, and 100-real notes in Minas Gerais.

Figures are not yet complete for 2020, but federal police seized more counterfeit money from January to July 2020 than in all of 2019.

InSight Crime explained that counterfeiting is becoming a more popular activity for organized crime since it is a low risk enterprise at a time when the pandemic has disrupted drug and human trafficking. The Brazilian Association to Combat Counterfeiting said that counterfeit money sales have increased about 20 percent during the pandemic.

One group, for example, was selling between 4,000 and 10,000 counterfeit notes every week, at a price of about 10 percent of a bill’s face value.

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