Paper Money

Global officials seize numerous counterfeit notes in May

Officials in multiple countries seized counterfeit notes in May, including officials of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Chicago. Other seizures were made by law enforcement officials in Europe.

Image courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

It's not a competition, but in one week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Chicago and police in Italy, Germany, and France each reported the seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars of freshly printed counterfeit bank notes.

KOLD News 13 in Chicago told a story of three days from May 15 to May 17 in which CBP seized 24 packages heading to various cities with counterfeit currency totaling $685,000. Even though the shipping manifests correctly listed them as “prop money,” KOLD quoted officials as saying “it is a violation of federal law to reproduce currency, and violators can be arrested.”

The packages included all denominations from $5 to $100. A shipment heading to the Bronx, New York, contained 976 $100 bills, while another package heading to Louisville contained 101 $20 bills and 103 $50 bills. The entire seizure was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Secret Service for further investigation.

The European seizures, despite being of similar value, may have been more dangerous in that the notes were not prop money and their production involved the Camorra, the Italian organized crime syndicate. In a coordinated operation on May 20, German Regional Criminal Police of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Italian Financial Police of Rome and Naples, assisted by Europol and the Belgian and French federal police, broke up a gang printing counterfeit euro notes in the Naples area and distributing them in Germany. Eighteen houses in Germany and one in Italy were searched, and four Italian nationals were arrested. Accounting records, computer evidence, and €30,000 in cash was seized. As part of the legal process, officers obtained a judicial security order of €415,000, issued by Germany. Also seized were cocaine, an illegal firearm and counterfeit money valued at about €160,000, including the first seizure of a counterfeit of the new €100 note, six months after its official release by the European Central Bank.

The main suspect, Europol says, “is also believed to be involved in the trafficking of different illegal commodities including drugs, stolen vehicles and falsified documents.”

On May 22, French authorities arrested 10 people accused of selling about €300,000 in fake notes.

The six men and four women were arrested in Marseille, Alençon, Rennes and Argenteuil, after more than two years of investigation. A report in the French journal The Connexion said the notes were supplied by the Camorra. They sold €20 notes for €6 to €7 each, and €100 notes for €25 to €30 each.

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