Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Counterfeit Euro Notes In Sweden Increased By 120 Percent

According to a report conducted by the National Forensic Center (NFC) in Linköping, Sweden, the counterfeit euro notes in circulation in the country increased by 120 percent from 2014 to 2016.

The National Forensic Center examines half of the total amount of counterfeit euro notes each year. Last year, they examined 660 fake bills. In two years, it is an increase of over 120 percent. The total estimated value of the notes analyzed in 2016 is expected to be around 500,000 SEK (57,000 USD).

The cause is believed to be the multiple internationally active counterfeiting gangs, who are pressing the fake bills increasing the circulation of falsified money in the country.

“The euro takes a significant amount of time to just note the investigations in Sweden, so it is,” Michael Johansson, one of the writers of the document analysis at the National forensic center (NFC), said in a statement.

According to the report, the bills are delivered to the police from different exchange offices in the country. This means that the counterfeit notes are discovered after they have been put into circulation.

“There is a far greater proportion of bank notes we get here that belong to the euro. And it’s really not especially remarkable when the euro is a very wide global currency. And that means the currency will be interesting for the professional counterfeiting gangs that engage in falsifying notes inhigh volumes and over large geographic areas,” Johansson said.

The NFC reported that they even have cases where criminals counterfeited foreign bank notes. One example is the Chinese Yuan. These cases have increased by over 60 percent from 2014 to 2016.

“Unfortunately, it seems many Swedish tourists who come back have been to China and bring notes home and have been ripped off in China. And they’ve got genuine bank notes exchanged for fake,” Johansson said regarding the case.

The NFC sees a new trend where organized counterfeiting gangs are selling the fake currencies on the dark net. Christian Söderström, who works as a police inspector at the Financial Police, confirmed this fact.

“If the criminals stop [sending] the powders and drugs in envelopes or put down a bundle of counterfeit currency that you have bought, then it is “same-same” so to speak. They avoid this by couriers, and you have to go with counterfeit notes. They only have to send the currency to the mailbox,” Söderström said.

Nowadays, since many people prefer to pay with euro, there are many stores in Sweden who voluntarily accept euros as payment. According to the NFC, this fact increases the number of counterfeit euros in circulation in the country. Söderström claimed that if Swedish shops stop accepting euros for payments, there will be no reason for criminals to order fake euros from the dark web in the country. Johansson strongly supports the police inspector’s statement. He would ban euro from shops and would make currency exchanges deal with the conversion.

“It would be appropriate to consider simply not accepting euro, foreign currency, in trade, but let the currency exchange offices handle the controls. It would definitely reduce the threat of skilled forgeries,” Johansson said.

Several countries in Europe, including Germany and Austria, reported an increase in counterfeit euro notes in the past few months. Most of the fake bills come from countries and regions outside of the European Union, such as the Balkans. Kosovo is included in this list. The country is infamous for its cross-border illicit trade issues, including the smuggling of counterfeit notes, tobacco, narcotics, arms, and people. Earlier this month, law enforcement authorities arrested two persons in Kosovo for possessing large amounts of fake euro bills.

According to the police report, investigators seized more than 2 million euros worth of currency. The notes were discovered in a vehicle crossing the border into the neighboring Albania to Kosovo. The seizure could be considered as the largest since the 1990s. The two suspects, an Albanian and a man originally from Cameroon but with French residency, were discovered with €2.13m in forged banknotes along with other items used in currency counterfeiting. That included nearly 3,000 blank paper notes ready for printing the €500 note, aluminum foil strips and eight bottles of chemicals.