In a collaboration between Europol and the Portuguese police department, a Portuguese national was extradited from Columbia and charged for distributing fake banknotes in exchange for Bitcoin on the dark web.
The amount of money that the man had made was not too significant, according to the Europol’s report, they found only 70,000 EUR in total. But the suspect had printed as much as EUR 1.3 million’s worth of banknotes (not real ones) and was distributing them to unsuspecting customers on the dark web.
The police are also saying that this is one of the most advanced counterfeiting schemes they’ve ever encountered. The only way these banknotes would have been identified as fake would be through a scan in the bank’s deposit office, or through a Pay Box.
The banknotes had almost everything, including holograms and watermarks that came across as genuine.
It’s unknown for how long this man had been conducting his operations, but considering that he’s only made EUR 70,000 it’s likely that it’s a relatively new “business”.
Regardless though, the man will be charged for investment fraud in Portugal and most likely sentenced to a few years in prison.
But this may have been an eye-opener for both Portuguese police as well as the Europol. The technology is well and beyond their methods of control, and individuals like the suspect can print out these banknotes without any issue, and pay with them in relatively smaller businesses.
Furthermore, they can easily find a “replacement” for these banknotes via cryptocurrencies, from unsuspecting victims trying their best to somehow avoid the local tax agency’s watchful eye.
This is one of the reasons that a country like Australia increased its cash payment cap, in order to prevent anything similar from happening. Be it money laundering or counterfeit exchange, it’s extremely hard to fake currency in the digital space, especially if it’s a hashed cryptocurrency.