Italian and French Police Unravel Euro Forgery Syndicate

Published: 09 April 2024

Counterfeit Euro EuropolItalian Carabinieri count counterfeit euro banknotes. (Photo: Europol, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

In a concerted effort to combat euro banknote counterfeiting, Italian and French law enforcement agencies arrested 63 individuals suspected of forging more than six million euros (US$6.52 million).

The European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol, which provided backing for the operation, announced in a statement on Monday that out of the 63 apprehensions, 62 occurred in Italy, with only one individual detained in France.

Europol reported that the Italian organized criminal group, primarily centered in Naples, played a significant role in the dissemination of meticulously crafted counterfeit banknotes of various denominations throughout Europe. Hence, the complex counterfeits earned the moniker “Napoli Group” banknotes within law enforcement circles.

The statement further said that even the European Central Bank’s analysis affirmed the superior quality of the forged security features exhibited on these counterfeit banknotes.

The Italian Carabinieri launched a sweeping anti-counterfeiting probe aimed at dismantling the nefarious operations of the Naples-based criminal syndicate in January 2023.

Primarily active in France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, the group extended its reach across Europe, peddling its counterfeit banknotes far and wide.

Ahead of the coordinated operation on Monday, Carabinieri reportedly uncovered a web of 83 illicit sales activities, culminating in the apprehension of seven couriers and the confiscation of a substantial cache of counterfeit currency amounting to up to 200,000 euros ($217,167), predominantly in denominations of 20, 50, or 100.