The alert went out earlier this summer. According to the Bank of Portugal, there had never been so many fake €20 in circulation.
These were not ‘easy-to-spot’ forgeries, but the kind of quality copies that would dupe anyone and everyone – hence the sheer number of fake notes identified.
Tabloid Correio da Manhã reported over the weekend that a former printer, aged 64, has finally been arrested, in Montijo (Setúbal district) along with a 59-year-old ‘partner’ with a criminal record for “economic crimes”.
Between June and last Wednesday, the pair had been running a money-printing press, for which, says CM, they had “dozens of orders”.
The men were allegedly ‘selling’ the money, though it is not immediately clear as to who their clients were.
CM adds that Italian mafias “dominate” the fake money sector as up till now they have been the best at producing quality fakes.
As to the number of notes in circulation, CM says well over 200 have already been detected, but there is a “strong possibility” that many more have found their way into “the illegal circuit”.
Surprisingly, no clues are given as to how to spot a fake €20 note. The paper simply says fake €20s have become increasingly ‘popular’ since authorities clamped down on counterfeit €50 notes between 2002-2014.
The investigation, led by the PJ’s anti-corruption unit, swooped on the ‘money factory’ after a number of fake notes were flagged at fuel stations and commercial establishments “on both sides of the Tejo”.
CM claims the two men were attempting to reach the level of perfection that would give them an edge over the Italian competition.
As a result, Montijo judges agreed to both men being remanded in custody, pending a trial date.