Five figures arrested over scheme police say was one of the most sophisticated ever seen in Europe.
Portuguese police and Europol have seized funds worth €70,000 ($77,200) in what they describe as one of the most advanced counterfeiting operations ever seen.
€1.3M fake notes sold since 2017
As Brazilian daily news outlet Sputnik and others reported on Sept. 10, law enforcement succeeded in bringing down the ring, which sold fake notes on the dark web in return for Bitcoin (BTC).
In action since 2017, the operation created €1.3 million in fake money. The leader, from Portugal, was found and extradited from Colombia this week.
According to police, the notes were some of the best quality forgeries they had encountered, bearing features such as watermarks and holograms.
“Often they are only detected when entering bank deposits. In terms of normal trade, they are banknotes that pass quite easily,” police investigation coordinator, Luís Ribeiro, said in a statement quoted by Sputnik.
Swapping easy money for hard money
The news is conspicuous for highlighting the perpetrators’ preference for unforgettable hard currency — Bitcoin — over printable fiat.
It is the second cautionary tale to emerge from Europe in recent weeks, after alarm at the discovery of fake gold bars in the vaults of some of the best-known institutions worldwide.
As Cointelegraph reported, around 1,000 spurious bars have been discovered, but experts fear the complete supply is much larger.
“Bitcoin fixes this,” Francis Pouliot, founder of Canadian Bitcoin consumer platform Bull Bitcoin, subsequently commented, alluding to the ability of individuals to verify Bitcoin transactions by running a full network node.