Darknet Bust: Man Gets Probation for Buying Fake Euros

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A 29-year-old from Gelshausen bought 15 counterfeit 20-euro notes in January 2015. He ordered notes from the darknet and directly put them into circulation. Nearly two years later, the man stood before a judge at Gelshausen district court.

He claimed that he never expected any counterfeit currency to actually arrive. The mere fact that he could have purchased anything enticed him, his attorney said. “There’s really everything,” he emphasized. He saw drugs for sale but was not interested. The same goes for counterfeit goods like watches and wallets. Counterfeit currency caught his eye.

The defendant ordered 15 individual euro notes, each valued at 20 euros. Roughly $320 in value. Then he sent the vendor $120 in bitcoin. At this point, he claimed, he still had low expectations. The defendant said that the “thought provoked him into buying something there.” He was more interested than malicious, his lawyer said.

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A few days after the $120 arrived in the vendor’s account, the defendant’s doorbell rang. It was a parcel courier for a “well-known parcel delivery service.” The documents make no mention of the company’s name. But there on the doorstep was the express package. He rapidly opened the box and verified the package contents. To his surprise, he explained, the notes were actually present.

The notes, he said, “smelled like the plague, but felt real.” Real enough to spend throughout Frankfurt. According to his own confession, he went out to dinner with his friends that evening. He paid with the fake notes. The defendant and his friends spent the remainder of the fake currency on their trip back home. Every time the group stopped, they paid for something small. The change they received in return was clean, real money. At the end of the night, the 29-year-old had no counterfeit currency.

Counterfeiting carries a penalty of one year, the prosecutor said. However, this case was not the same as many others. His violations went from being a “minor case” to being a more noticeable one. And, the prosecutor said, this was not due to the counterfeit currency alone. In January, 2016, the defendant sold drugs for a short period of time. Police then arrested him and placed him in custody. A judge sentenced the man shortly thereafter. The 29-year-old Gelnhausen received a fine of “200 days’ worth of ten euros.”

A second violation of the law warranted a more severe punishment, the prosecutor said. Judge Petra Ockert agreed. The defendant received two years in prison, suspended upon completion of six months on probation. Judge Ockert also required the defendant to pay 300 euros “any social institution.”

Counterfeit Euros on the Darknet:

Europol, earlier this year, called the darknet an interface to terrorism. Money and firearms were the greatest concern. Euros especially. Fake euros started running wild in 2016, in part due to the darknet, a report from the BKA stated:

The stark rise in counterfeit euros is due to underground internet-markets in the so-called “Dark Net.” Alongside the faked notes, online buyers can purchase materials for making their own copies as well as instructions and hologram, three-dimensional images. The counterfeiters also were able to mimic more security features, such as micro-printing and tactile features, which improved the quality of the fakes and made them harder for people to detect.

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