On Frida,y Italian police officials seized 556, 000 euros ($ 692, 000) in counterfeit euro coins from a ship container in the port of Naples. According to investigators, the coins were minted in China.
The so-called “Shanghai Money” investigation was led by Palermo prosecutor Calogero Ferrera. He told reporters that this was the biggest case of counterfeit money in the history of the euro, which began circulating back in 2002.
Twelve people were arrested by the Carabinieri paramilitary police, among them were four Chinese nationals. They all were charged with conspiracy to produce and distribute counterfeit money.
“The seized euros were of high-quality and were produced at a clandestine Chinese mint, ready to be put on the Italian market right before the big spending rush on Christmas” reads the arrest warrant.
The total number of seized coins was 306, 000 and they were in 1- and 2-euro dominations.
Ferrera commented that the 2-euro coins were a sort of a “perfect product” as they could not be distinguished from an authentic one with a naked eye. They would’ve even worked in vending machines.
Italy, and more specifically Naples, is a hot destination for euro counterfeiting, but this case is the first instance in which authorities have discovered fake euros made in China and designated for the euro zone.
Gerardo Marinelli, Italy’s top counterfeit investigator in Naples, commented back in September that over half the fake bills in the euro zone come from Naples. A remark deriving from data based on previously sequestered banknotes.
According to the European Central Bank counterfeits are only a small fraction of the currency that circulates in the euro zone.
Back in September, Italian finance police officials arrested a man outside a shopping center near Naples driving a van in which he had concealed a haul of counterfeit 50-euro banknotes (in total of 17 million euros).