Europe’s biggest counterfeit coin factory 

Huge counterfeit operation uncovered in spain

Image of the fake €2 coins. Credit: PoliciaNacional/X

Could the coins in your pocket be counterfeit? A major operation in Spain has just exposed a significant breach in currency security.

A report published on Wednesday, April 24 detailed how officers from Spain’s National Police in Toledo, Spain, dismantled the largest factory known for producing high quality counterfeit €2 coins in Europe over the last decade.

This facility was part of a network that had circulated nearly 100,000 fake coins across Spain and a staggering 400,000 throughout Europe. The operation, which started in 2018, involved a group consisting mainly of Chinese nationals.

In-depth investigation

The initial suspicions arose in September 2018, triggering a series of intricate investigations focused around the central peninsular area of Spain. It became clear that the operation involved several individuals, though the exact number remains uncertain.

As the investigation deepened, various police raids between 2018 and 2021 consistently unearthed coins with similar features, hinting at a single source.

 Counterfeiters’ techniques and tactics

The expertise behind the counterfeit coins was notably sophisticated, featuring high-quality finishes that mimicked legitimate currency almost perfectly.

Those involved in the scheme frequently targeted gaming halls and casinos, utilising the fake coins in coin-operated machines.

The elusive nature of the operation posed significant challenges for the investigators, marked by the high mobility of the manufacturing sites and the almost untraceable nature of the metal coins.

Lucky break

In a turn of events earlier in 2024, a routine roadside check by the Madrid Municipal Police led to the discovery of a vehicle loaded with counterfeit coins.

The occupants were three Chinese nationals who appeared extremely nervous. This prompted a thorough search that revealed 48 bags filled with fake €2 coins. This stop was crucial in tracking down the broader operation.

Major breakthrough leads to arrests

The ongoing surveillance and analysis of the detainees’ prior movements pointed investigators to a location in Toledo.

The search of the premises there revealed a well-equipped facility with hydraulic presses, manual and electromechanical machines, and numerous components used in coin production.

This conclusive raid resulted in the seizure of various tools and finished products, culminating in the arrest of 10 individuals connected to this huge and highly successful counterfeit network.

The closure of this workshop marks a significant triumph in the battle against counterfeit currency in Europe, highlighting the persistent challenges and complexities faced in securing economic transactions.

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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.