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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Six Austrians Bought Counterfeit Notes From The Dark Web – Sentenced To Community Work

On Wednesday, the Wiener Neustadt Regional Court sentenced six young persons, aged between 16 and 20, to community work for buying counterfeit euro notes from the dark web. The prosecutor charged them with counterfeiting, or with the possession and transfer of the banknotes.

According to official court documents, the defendants, five men, and a woman, despite their different occupations (students, interns, one of them was already working), were “well-kept” by their parents. The suspects bought the counterfeit euro notes to cover their narcotics dependencies.

“They were succumbing to the temptation in the Darknet, where you could order almost everything,” the lawyer of a defendant said.

“How do you get into Darknet as a 16-year-old?” the judge asked the youngest defendant.

Even a 12-year-old could access the dark web, the suspect answered to the judge’s question. The 17-year-old suspect was the one who bought the counterfeit euros from a dark net vendor. He met the second accused at a party, where they discussed how to put the fake bills into circulation. The suspect did not dare to use the fake bills by himself. According to his confession, the 17-year-old paid 10 euros in bitcoins for a counterfeit 50 euro note. In addition to that, he also admitted that he ordered marijuana to his home address in April 2016. Unfortunately, due to the lack of information, we do not know exactly how many notes did the group order from the dark web.

When the judge asked the suspects why they committed the crimes, they gave distinct answers. According to the 17-year-old, he didn’t think much about the whole transgression, he was only curious. The 16-year-old said that she did not have much money at the time. She helped out at her mother’s place, however, she did not have a fixed income. The suspect wanted to start an apprenticeship, but she needed 500 euros. Another defendant said that, due to the long and expensive travel to his school, he had financial problems. That’s why he needed the counterfeit notes, to get some quick cash.

Due to the number of the suspects, law enforcement authorities had to use multiple rooms and officers for the questioning of the defendants. According to a police officer, investigators seized the counterfeit notes. Authorities sent them to the National Bank for further examination.

“The notes were not bad,” the officer said.

When the investigator first saw the counterfeit bills, he did not clearly see the difference between the original ones. He needed a second look to see that the notes were fake.

Two defendants (the oldest ones) were ordered to pay “fines in considerable amounts”. Due to the fact that the other three suspects are minors, the court sentenced each to 120 hours of community work at a non-profit organization. Three defendants, who already had income, were ordered to pay 250 euros each. The sentence is final, however, the prosecutor gave no explanation to the 20-year-old’s case.

In the past 3-4 months, the number of counterfeiting cases was booming. Criminals, mostly residing in Germany, Austria, and France ordered fake euro bills from dark net vendors and tried to put them into circulation. However, due to the low quality of the notes, most of the suspects got caught when they tried to pay with the euros. Most of them were amateurs, who wanted to make easy money with almost no “work”. Since this fact, law enforcement authorities arrested a large percent of the criminals the first time when they tried to put the counterfeit notes into circulation.

An example for the current case happened in Weil am Rhein, Germany. On April 20, 2016, two Swiss citizens ordered counterfeit euros from the dark web. After they received them, on May 17, they travelled to Germany to put the money into circulation and gain profits from the scheme. However, when they tried to pay for two bottles of mineral water at a restaurant with a fake 50 bill, the waitress immediately alerted police. Law enforcement authorities detained the two suspects and found the remaining nine notes in one’s underpants. The juvenile court of justice sentenced one of the defendants to six months of probation, while the other was ordered to pay 800 euros in fine.
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