Biggest Coin Fraud In The History of The Euro

April 1, 2011

In some interesting coin related news it is alleged by German prosecutors that 29 tonnes of damaged, invalidated and separated bi-metal Euro coins were being cleverly reassembled in China. They were then returned to Germany and deposited at a bank in an outrageous attempt at fraud netting the criminals US$8.5 million over a 3 year period from 2007 to 2010.

A 1 Euro coin appears to be a bi-metal coin (but is in fact a tri-metal coin), with an inner disc made from Cu-Ni clad nickel, and an outer ring of Nickel Brass. The 2 Euro coins are of a similar construction but have a Nickel Brass clad Nickel core and a Cu-Ni outer ring. Damaged and mutilated €1 and €2 coins from circulation are collected by German banks and destroyed by separating the inner core from the outer ring, the remnants are then sold as scrap metal to China. Recently, unscrupulous persons were arrested after purchasing these bags of ex-coin scrap parts in China and reassembling them. The re-assembled coins were sent back to Germany in the baggage of Lufthansa airline staff (who have no weight restrictions on their luggage).

After returning to Germany the coins were mixed in with quantities of normal 1 and 2 Euro coins and deposited at the German Bundesbank in bagged coin deposits. These bags were simply weighed by the bank with the contents not thoroughly checked and then accepted as valid deposits. The Bundesbank just happens to be the only financial institution in Europe that accepts damaged coin without charge to the customer. This was the biggest Euro currency related fraud since 2002 when the common Euro currency and coins were introduced into the Eurozone.

Currently there have been 6 people arrested, including Chinese immigrants and flight attendants, all wanted for their involvement in the transfer of counterfeit currency (which is what the re-made coins are considered to be). 25 more people are wanted in connection with the fraud. Authorities were first alerted to the scam when a flight attendant was seen struggling with her suitcase in Frankfurt airport in early 2010. A random search revealed she had thousands of re-constructed €1 and €2 coins inside!

The investigation continues.

Posted by harrisk at April 1, 2011 9:44 AM
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