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Darknet Based Counterfeit Money Gang Dismantled in Portugal

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The 34-year-old portuguese man is accused of leading a group of four people who were engaged in producing and sending a quantity of more than 24k counterfeit 50 and 10-euro banknotes created by them which were seized and detected between the beginning of 2017 to August 2019, said the Public Prosecutor’s Office, in the indictment.

The remaining four defendants are being tried in another case, which began on the 18th, also in the Court of Coimbra, and which already has a sentence hearing scheduled for June 15th at 1:30pm.

The alleged leader of the group, who is in pre-trial detention, is being tried in a separate case for having requested a jury court, with the rest being tried by a collective of judges.

According to the indictment, the group was engaged in counterfeiting euro banknotes and selling them on the ‘darknet’, sending them to destinations in Europe such as Montenegro, Ireland, Germany, England, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium or the Czech Republic, with orders being paid in ‘bitcoin’.

The group was formed in the end of 2016, consisting of the defendant, her partner from 2016 to 2018, and her parents, who were joined by another man in 2019.

According to the Public Prosecutor, the leader of the group tried to advertise the sale of banknotes on the Internet (he sold them for ten euros each of 50-euro banknotes), then guiding the other members to try to produce the desired quantities and send the banknotes, which at the beginning were manufactured in the residence of his companion and his parents in Fão, Esposende, as well as in an annex of a house that they had in Valadares, Vila Nova de Gaia.

In early 2018, the leader of the group moved to Colombia, but maintained the activity of the group, contacting the former companion through platforms such as Signal and Whatsapp.

In 2019, the group started producing the notes in the municipality of Cantanhede, when another element joined the organization.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) states that the banknotes began to be identified in January 2017, circulating in Montenegro and Ireland, and later that year they were also detected in the Portugal cities of Porto and Leiria.

In June 2019, several orders were seized with various European destinations, including one with 605 counterfeit 50-euro banknotes, inserted inside a surveillance camera, destined for England.

At that time, notes the MP, activity was expanding to the point where the group was looking for “a courier service to send by post”, when the PJ operation ended its activity.

In addition to the 24k 50 and 10 euro banknotes detected between 2017 and August 2019, additional 287 50 euro banknotes and 87 10 euro banknotes were seized in the searches.

The group leader, like the other defendants, is charged with crime of counterfeiting (simple) and a crime of counterfeiting currency.

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Written by Kofi Anash

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