Unbelievable ‘tinted banknote’ scam uncovered by Spanish police

Spanish counterfeit scam uncovered

'Tinted banknote' scam. Credit: interior.gob.es

Police have arrested five individuals for an unbelievable scam.

Can you imagine turning plain cardboard into money? This is the deceit at the heart of the recent ‘tinted banknotes’ scam, a sophisticated fraud operation that has just been dismantled by the National Police, as reported on Wednesday, January 24.

The National Police have apprehended five individuals – two in Barcelona and three in Madrid – involved in a complex scamming scheme known also known as the ‘wash wash’ scam. The operation, which resulted in arrests and seizures, took place in the latter part of 2023.

Unravelling the scam

The investigation was sparked in August after diligent surveillance by the National Police on social networks and the darkweb revealed a suspicious website.

The site, posing as a German organisation, offered counterfeit euros banknotes without specifying the denominations.

Options for online and face-to-face purchases raised red flags, as such practices are uncommon in the online counterfeit currency trade. Investigators noted the site’s multiple contact options via instant messaging applications.

The ‘wash wash’ deception

The ‘wash wash’ or ‘tinted banknotes’ scam involves tricking victims into believing that white cardboard, when washed with chemicals and through seemingly magical processes, can be transformed into legitimate or high-quality counterfeit banknotes.

After establishing contact with the suspects, police confirmed their involvement in this fraudulent operation.

In Barcelona, two suspects were apprehended after a vehicle search yielded counterfeit €50 and €100 notes, €1,550 in legal tender, chemicals, fake documents, and materials used in producing the counterfeit notes.

Uncovering the extent of the fraud

The investigation continued, revealing in November that several individuals had swindled a victim out of a substantial sum using the same modus operandi.

They convinced the victim to invest more money for chemicals to ‘clean’ the remaining cardboard, part of a larger promised amount. This led to the arrest of two more individuals in Madrid and a third accomplice.

All detainees have been placed in provisional custody, with evidence linking them to several fraud crimes involving amounts exceeding €500,000 in some cases.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.