Three Latvians Arrested for Purchasing Counterfeit Euros via the Dark Web
As the supply and demand for counterfeit notes on the dark web continues to rise, the Latvian State Police have announced that they arrested three Latvian citizens who allegedly purchased counterfeit euro notes through the dark web from a vendor based in the Netherlands and had the notes delivered by mail. According to the announcement, the arrests led to the seizure of 87 counterfeit 50-euro banknotes.
At the beginning of this year, the State Police in Latvia’s capital city received a tip-off that someone was using the Riga Airport to import counterfeit notes into Latvia. The tip-off prompted the authorities to intensify the screening of packages shipped from abroad through the airport. To ensure the package was not missed, the state police and agents of the Customs Board of the State Revenue Service collaborated in the packages’ screening process. During the screening process at the Latvian Post Sorting Complex, the police intercepted a package shipped from the Netherlands. On unsealing the envelope, the police found a greeting card with counterfeit notes hidden in it. The interception led to the seizure of fifty forged euro notes, all in €50 denominations.
The police then initiated a search for the person to whom the package had been addressed, which resulted in the arrest of one of the suspects. On being arrested, the man gave up information that led to the arrest of two other men also believed to have been involved in the purchase of counterfeit notes through the dark web for resale. After placing the men in custody, the police carried out searches on their residences and places of work. The searches resulted in the seizure of 32 counterfeit 50-euro banknotes from one of the suspects’ homes, all allegedly purchased through the dark web. According to the police statement, all the seized notes did not have watermarks and had the same serial number. The State Police disclosed that, after interrogating the suspects and after further investigations, they discovered that the suspects intended to use the banknotes in gaming machines and for purchasing goods and services.
Criminal proceedings against the three suspects have already begun; they are charged with the production, supply, transportation, consignation, purchase, and possession of counterfeit money and financial instruments of the state. If found guilty, the suspects may be sentenced to five years in prison. The suspects will first be subjected to a pre-trial detention hearing as the police continue investigations against their dark web activities. While announcing the arrests, the Latvian State police warned that it monitors online activities and will continue to do so to prevent the importation and circulation of counterfeit banknotes into Latvia.
The three Latvian suspects are counted among the many arrested in the recent past for the sole reason of the purchase of counterfeit euro banknotes through the dark web. In one of the most recent operations coordinated by Europol, law enforcement agencies from 13 countries arrested and detained 235 suspects believed to have purchased counterfeit euro notes through the dark web. All the 235 arrests were tied to a single counterfeit notes vendor from Austria. According to reports, the Austrian Federal Criminal Police successfully investigated and arrested the vendor and dismantled his counterfeiting workshop. The vendor made 10, 20, and 50 euro banknotes and sold them on various dark web marketplaces; he allegedly managed to sell over 10,000 of the notes to buyers from nearly all European Union member states. The vendor’s arrest resulted in the seizure of evidence that had records of his transactions which disclosed the addresses of his clients. The Austrian police shared this evidence with Europol who coordinated the search for the buyers with the affected countries, leading to the search of 300 premises and the arrest of the 235 suspects in the first phase of the action.
The arrests resulted in the seizure of 1500 counterfeit euro notes, bitcoin, drugs and a counterfeit note printing workshop in France. The vendor had so many clients that the 235 arrested formed the first phase of the search for his clients. Spain’s National Police announced that in the second phase of their search, completed on February 20th, they arrested 7 more suspects, adding to the 18 they detained in the first phase of the operation.