Counterfeit cash gang dismantled in southern Spain

NATIONAL Police have broken up a money counterfeiting gang that operated in Spain and Portugal. 

The criminal group, based in the Andalusian city of Huelva, manufactured fake 10, 20 and 50 banknotes. 

Police say the operation has stopped €250,000 of fake cash entering circulation in the two nations. 

Officers arrested six people accused of forging the currency and then distributing it through shops and bars in Spain and Portugal. 

Europol provided tailored financial and analytical support to the investigation. A mobile office was deployed for on-the-spot support during the action day in Huelva, Spain, which allowed for real-time crosschecking of information against the Europol’s databases. 

The investigation began in March of this year when counterfeit banknotes were detected in amongst legal tender.  

Initial investigations revealed that the criminal organisation was operating from the province of Huelva, where the banknotes were apparently distributed in small shops and bars. 

Shortly afterwards it was discovered that they were not only engaged in the distribution of counterfeit euros in southern Spain, but were also specialists in counterfeiting and had started to move into Portugal. 
Later in the investigations, the agents located the clandestine printing press in one of the two house searches they carried out simultaneously in the capital of Huelva, arresting the alleged forger.  

They also seized €8,230 in fake notes, enough material ready to print around €250,000, two pistols – one fake and one real – three printers, three computers, a large amount of paper of different thicknesses and qualities, different metallic materials used to imitate the hologram of the euro banknotes, cutting instruments and ink cartridges. 

Once the printing press was dismantled and the counterfeiter arrested, the investigators located and arrested five people accused of distributing the counterfeit notes. Police say the organisation has been completely dismantled. 

In September the Euro Weekly News reported how warnings about fake notes had been circulating on social media. 

The notes which may still be circulating can be identified by a thicker silver strip on the right hand side and no thread on the left. 

Run your finger across the front of a banknote and you will feel raised print in some parts, where the ink is thicker. 

A fake note will often feel limp and waxy. The raised print is usually missing, while the watermark on a genuine note is produced by varying the thickness of the paper. 

It can be seen by holding the banknote against the light. The transitions between the light and dark parts of the image are smooth. 

If you put the banknote on a dark surface, the watermark becomes darker. This effect is very easy to see in the number. 

A fake watermark is usually printed on the paper. It appears darker than the surrounding area. The transitions between light and dark areas are often very sharp. 

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Written by

Dilip Kuner

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