Christmas and the holidays are near and e-commerce sales are booming. So too is the dark web where, according to a report by German newspaper volksfreund.de, criminals are buying progressively more counterfeit Euros. They say this is the reason why there’s plenty of fake Euro bills in the Rhineland-Palatinate region.
There’s a recent story about Markus Reis, the owner of the Zeltinger Hof hotel, who was pointed out by an employee of the local bank on a fake 100 Euro bill he tried to use as payment. Reis did not believe his eyes since the bill seemed genuine to untrained eyes. When compared to a legitimate 100 Euro bill, it was still hard to distinguish, which one was the real one.
At the moment, it is believed that there could be thousands of fake 50 Euro bills in specific regions of Germany. Since 50 Euro bills are the most popular ones in the country, counterfeiters use this to take advantage. Bundesbank, a German financial institution, registered 45,700 pieces of 50 Euro bills just in the first half of 2016. This takes about 60 percentage of all banknotes they registered in that part of the year.
“Criminals buy counterfeit money cheaper than original, and they make a profit of it,” one investigator said.
According to German law enforcement authorities, a good place for criminals to pay with counterfeit money is Christmas markets.
“There is usually little time for the vendor for an exact check,” says Bundesbank spokesman Moritz Raasch.
According to Raasch, the counterfeit money business is booming since the counterfeiters opened up new distribution channels via illegal internet platforms, such as dark net markets and forums. The fake money is openly offered on the dark web, customers can even buy fake holograms, which can be placed on 50 Euro bills, says Holger Berg, counterfeit money expert at the National Criminal Police (LKA) in Mainz.
Now, even amateur fraudsters are buying counterfeit money from the dark web since the tutorials and the adequate supplies can be found on dark web markets.
“This calls for adventurers who are looking to make some profits,” a prosecutor from Baden-Württemberg said.
According to Berg, German law enforcement authorities catch young suspects trying to cash in fake money more frequently. However, while criminals make profits from using counterfeit bills, unlucky victims, such as Markus Reis, have to pay back the damage. Counterfeit bills are not replaced to the victims by the German government.
Recently, an 18-year-old from Amstetten, Austria was sentenced to 15 months in prison for buying counterfeit bills and drugs on the dark net. Official court documents say the suspect was a drug addict from the age of 14 and he bought narcotics from the dark web to finance his addiction. He sold a part of the bought substances to customers to make profits. The 18-year-old mostly ordered from vendors based in the Netherlands or Poland. During the home search, law enforcement authorities found a mailbox key, which they located and opened. Inside, they found various narcotics and 20 pieces of counterfeit five Euro bills.