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Fake euro coin scam uncovered

Published: 31 Mar 2011 08:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 31 Mar 2011 14:21 GMT+02:00

Euro coins earmarked by the Bundesbank to be scrapped were reassembled in China, Frankfurt state prosecutor Doris Möller-Scheu said in a statement. Flight attendants allegedly smuggled them back to Germany where they were swapped for legitimate currency at the central bank.

The gang netted an estimated €6 million.

The scam involved 29 tonnes of €1 and €2 coins sent to China as scrap metal, the statement said. Before they are sold as scrap, the gold and silver parts of the coins are broken apart. But the gang stuck the parts back together and then smuggled the coins back to Germany.

The Bundesbank is the only place in Europe that exchanges damaged coins at no cost.

Five people are in custody over the scam. A sixth has already been brought before a judge. They were aged 28 to 45. Four were Chinese.

They carried 29 tonnes of coins from China to Germany between 2007 and November 2010, and four flight attendants were allegedly involved in the scam.

In a statement, Lufthansa said it had been “made aware by the responsible authorities of an investigation into individual workers. We do not comment on state prosecutors’ investigations.”

The Bundesbank in Frankfurt declined to comment for the moment. Despite initial reports that bank employees were also involved, the state prosecutor said that “no worker of the Bundesbank is under suspicion.”

Daily Bild reported that the scam came to light after a flight attendant drew attention by struggling with her heavy luggage. When customs officers opened the luggage, they found thousands of euro coins inside.

State prosecutor Doris Möller-Scheu confirmed to the paper: “An investigation for putting counterfeit money into circulation is underway against the suspects.”

The Local/DPA/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:48 March 31, 2011 by authun
I'm sure that'll get 'em a good six months in jail. Uh, for the ringleaders. Maybe.
09:01 March 31, 2011 by Kanji
after years of trial.... :-)
09:08 March 31, 2011 by auniquecorn
a good six months in jail?

a little overkill is´nt it?
09:48 March 31, 2011 by twisted
Ahem friends, this is about MONEY and screwing the German government, not murder, rape or mayhem. Punishment for this will be big time, not a teeny 14-15 years (life in Germany).
12:00 March 31, 2011 by vivanco
They should have at-least shredded or deformed the coin before sending to china.
12:24 March 31, 2011 by mhdamro
i wonder what will happen if the same story happened in one of the New EU countries like Romania or Poland ..... !!!! Am sure the germans will all be Bi@#%ing about how these new EU's are damaging the country .... i think they should just stop stereotyping others .... buy a mirror !!!! ...... or steal one from china hehehe
13:43 March 31, 2011 by freechoice
due to cost cutting, they dun pay well at Lufthansa?
14:48 March 31, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
Really - no one saw this coming???
16:15 March 31, 2011 by bramblebush
How do you break a coin apart and put it back together again? Do they mean smelt the metal and recast without the precious metal?
16:16 March 31, 2011 by dbert4
Does anyone at the local really read German? Their online translater in failing them..again. These aren't "fake" coins, they are the real deal that were sold as scrap and put illegally put back in circulation.

But anycase, shocking, the Chinese are usually such a "trustworthy" people!
16:41 March 31, 2011 by twisted
QUOTE But anycase, shocking, the Chinese are usually such a "trustworthy" people! UNQUOTE

Germans were a part of this scam as well so let's not just beat up on the Chinese. Besides their cooking is much better than the German "cuisine."
18:04 March 31, 2011 by Altdude
Other than in a strictly legalistic sense, what is the difference between a real and a fake coin? Are these coins gold, or just gold colored?
19:49 March 31, 2011 by xx.weirich.xx
...

-facepalm-

And they sent metal that could THAT EASILY be put back together to China WHY? They didn't mess it up even a little bit WHY?

...
23:10 March 31, 2011 by beeker
The tipoff was the little gold stickers that said MADE IN CHINA on them.

If they are assembed in a non EU country,isn't there a duty owed on them.
23:17 March 31, 2011 by wxman
The Chinese and North Koreans are famous for counterfeiting strong world currencies in an effort to bring them down economically. This is nothing new and should not be surprising.
16:00 April 1, 2011 by padu
dbert4 said "Chinese are usually such a "trustworthy" by wxman said "Chinese are famous for counterfeiting strong world currencies"

Men, are the innocent, orderly, honest and law-biding Germans part of the this crime? You guys are not under 18, right?
17:16 April 1, 2011 by Heinrich-Hammler
I don't care where they come from, I hate stinking theives.

They all end up costing you and me money.
23:53 April 2, 2011 by Zlik
The Germans did The operation coin flip in china and brought tonnes back to bundesbank thru their jobs with Luftansa.
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