In early June, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) arrested two counterfeiters in Duisburg-Neudorf after they had shipped a package of fake Euros to a customer without the proper postage. The package returned to sender and the counterfeiters had used the address of a neighbor. In December, a district judge finally sentenced both suspects for printing counterfeits and selling them on the darknet.
A buyer in France who had ordered a set of fake 50-Euro notes was one of the duo’s last customers, prosecutors explained during an earlier hearing in November. The counterfeiters packaged and shipped the notes, but had forgotten to apply the correct number of stamps to the package. Prosecutors said the package had entered the mail stream adequately stamped and postal employees returned the package to the sender. Like many darknet vendors, the counterfeiters used an address that belonged to someone else. The package belonged to a neighbor. After receiving the package and finding several fake 50-Euro notes, the recipient called the police.
The BKA joined the investigation and contacted French law enforcement. In France, the police searched the house listed on the inadequately stamped package. They discovered 700 counterfeit Euro notes and evidence that proved the notes had originated in Duisburg. The French police seized the notes and arrested the buyer. French authorities shared information with the BKA and investigators in Germany continued their work with the new evidence from France.
Evidence led the BKA to a house owned by a 50-year-old man with numerous prior convictions. During the investigation into the 50-year-old, the authorities discovered an accomplice. After gathering enough evidence for an arrest, police raided the 50-year-old’s house in Duisburg. They found €70,000 in counterfeit euro notes, laser printers, scanners, special paper, numerous cell phones and computers, USB storage devices, and butterfly knives. Evidence at the house also led to the arrest of two more counterfeit buyers in France.
The primary and initial suspect, a 50-year-old man with numerous prior convictions, printed fake Euros at his house in Duisburg, investigators easily discovered. His partner, a 54-year-old without a single criminal record, assisted in the counterfeit production. According to prosecutors, the second suspect provided “aid” to the first suspect. The partners managed a darknet market vendor account where they had listed their so-called “deceptively real fifties.”
In court, the prosecution accused the primary suspect of being the leader of the criminal enterprise. The court noted that the man had a criminal history with 17 entries. He had already spent a total of 14 years of his life in prison. Investigators found that the 50-year-old had clearly managed the operation. Yet, they said, despite his role as the leader or primary conspirator, the man attempted to paint the 54-year-old co-defendant as the head of the operation. The court bought nothing the man sold and sentenced him to four years in prison.
The 54-year-old had a completely clean criminal record. They said he had some so-called “ambitions” when it came to producing fake Euro notes, but he played only a minor role in the operation. For his participation in the criminal enterprise as the primary defendant’s “aid,” the court sentenced the 54-year-old to one year in prison suspended upon completion of one year of probation.
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