Portugal has been acting as a hub for one of Europe’s largest money forging rings.
PJ police investigation ‘Operation Deep Money’ has succeeded in dismantling the ring which ‘sold’ its false banknotes via the ‘dark web’.
In a communiqué issued today, the PJ gives some of the details, explaining the operation went ahead with the help of Europol.
Searches in Portugal, France and Germany came up with a stash of forged notes and “diverse objects related to their production, namely computers, printers, security paper with safety filaments included, holograms and self-adhesive holographic bands, ultraviolet ink and ink cartridges”.
Five people have been arrested, among them a Portuguese citizen – who had been living in Colombia and was extradited in the last few days – and is described as the leader of the operation.
Says the statement, “this criminal ring has been in operation since the beginning of 2017, and is responsible for the production of more than 26,000 notes, most of them of 50 euros”.
The false notes were publicised on one of the leading darknet markets, “with orders coming via private messages or through encrypted conversation platforms”.
Once payments were made – almost always using ‘virtual currency’ (Bitcoins), the fake notes “were sent by post, from Portugal – the place where they were being produced”.
For now, it’s unclear where exactly the notes were being made, but this may emerge over the coming days, or during the trial of the five who remain in preventive custody.