Inside the Rise of Counterfeit Notes on the Dark Web

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Fake euro money printed from a regular printer.
An analysis of the growing demand for counterfeit notes on the dark web, impacts on the market and consequences for countries around the world.

The rise of counterfeit notes has been rampant over the last few years. These fake notes are traded by people who want to remain anonymous on the dark web.

With the circulation of these items spreading to more darknet markets, law enforcement are finding it overwhelming to deal with the perpetrators behind it.

Cybercrime has been increasingly becoming a regular activity all over the globe. The dark web is said to have been the core facilitator of these malicious businesses.

Regardless of the authorities putting pressure on the people involved in these illegal activities, similar cases of people arrested selling counterfeit notes still appear.

Several Cases Highlight a Market in Demand

Recently, a man in Austria was arrested for allegedly selling thousands of counterfeit 50 Euro notes on the dark web.

The man is believed to have been operating this illegal business on the darknet for many years.

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Before his arrest last month, he had produced over 10,000 fake notes and sold them through darknet markets.

Investigators, together with Austrian police, tracked him down to Gdynia, a city in Gdansk, Poland.

The Polish Central Police Investigation Bureau reported having been informed by Europol about the circulation of the counterfeit notes.

He was pinned down on his way to supply his customers with the bills. An unauthorized print shop was also closed down.

In another case back in October 2016, two young German men were convicted of selling counterfeit Euros on the dark web.

The 50 Euro notes, the same found with the arrested man this year, are the bills that have been seen counterfeited over the years.

Interestingly, the notes have all the required security features. These counterfeits can’t be easily identified by untrained persons as they possess holograms or watermarks and even pass checks with ultraviolet light.

Tony Sales, a former credit fraudster, noted in the media recently that fake currency business has become big among organized criminals and the counterfeit notes operations are growing more and more complicated.

In January 2015, five printing presses in Naples alleged to have been producing fake banknotes were seized by the police.

Judge hammer on money euro banknotes.
The rise of counterfeit notes has been rampant over the last few years. These fake notes are traded by people who want to remain anonymous on the dark web.

The printing presses were believed to have been behind the unfinished fake 50 Euro bills summing up to 50 million Euros.

Still, in the same year, it was reported that counterfeiters lured several shopkeepers in Hull into accepting fake £50 notes.

Hampshire was also affected whereby police found that residents were using the same bills.

Once the imposters produce the notes, they are distributed secretly via the dark web.

Usually, the fake bills sell cheaply—1,000 Euros worth of counterfeit could be offered to buyers at half the price, say 500 Euros.

The rural areas have been seen suffering the most. Counterfeiters would target people from these areas as most of them wouldn’t identify these fakes.

The counterfeit banknotes work in bookies, casinos, train ticket machines and self-service checkouts.

In a report prepared by the German Federal Criminal Police Agency in 2015, crimes involving counterfeit notes were seen to have risen by 42 percent since the prior year.

This increase was due to items that were often traded by users in the dark web. The country’s central bank reported that those counterfeit notes had cost them millions.

Production and distribution of counterfeit notes do not affect European countries alone. Earlier this year, police arrested a man in Houston, Texas for allegedly using real cash to create counterfeit bills.

During a raid in his home, $100 worth of real money was used to print new fakes. An undercover police officer confirmed that $200,000 notes were already in circulation.

Another incident involving fake notes was reported on July 29 in Dubai.

A Pakistani man traveling from Italy was caught with thousands of counterfeit Euro banknotes inside a suitcase. The 51-year-old was carrying notes totaling close to 3 million Euros.

How to Spot a Counterfeit Note


There are 19 countries where Euros are in use. The European Central Bank has put in place a website where the security features of the different denominations in operation are listed.

Pile of paper euro banknotes.
Recently, a man in Austria was arrested for allegedly selling thousands of counterfeit 50 Euro notes on the dark web.

Fake currencies flooded some countries in such a way that even experts may have trouble identifying them.

Being found with one might put you in a compromising situation. It is vital that you have some first-hand knowledge on how to spot fake currency.

So how do you check these notes?

The first straightforward thing to do is tilt the note. The numbers should change color if the bill is legitimate.

This function is available on notes in denominations of 50 to 500 Euros.

The other thing to check for is raised print. The print in the Euro is lifted and bumpy.

US Dollars (USD)

There is a micro site set up by the U.S. Federal Reserve that links to resources in which all the detailed features of USD denominations are highlighted.

For a $1, a magnet is said to move the note when placed over number one when the bill is folded to a 130-degree angle. The outside borders of the bill should also be clear and unbroken.

Always look out for raised printing as well. The seal should match the Treasury Seal.

British Pound

The British Pound has a metallic thread that shows up as a dashed silver strip just off the center. When held under UV light, the numbers must appear bright and vibrant.

The Bank of England has put in place a comprehensive guide that has security features for different denominations. Go through the manual to learn further.

The above is just a slight glimpse of how to check legitimacy in the three currencies. Do your homework to find out more on the same. As it is, fraudsters are quite smart, and it’s easy for them to get you confused.

The Impact of Counterfeit Notes on the Market

The practice of counterfeiting is a crime that continually poses a threat to a country’s economy.

There are many ways that this practice has affected society, especially a reduction in the value of real money.

When the money supply increases, the country’s inflation increases as well.

Hundred dollar bill .
Fake currencies flooded some countries in such a way that even experts may have trouble identifying them.

When supply can’t meet demand, scarcity of commodities occurs, product prices go up and people have to pay more for the same items.

There is also the loss of public confidence. Many people lose trust in their economy as they don’t know which notes are real and which ones are fake.

When banks find out that a certain amount of money is counterfeit, they confiscate them and do not reimburse. Many big businesses have suffered huge losses in such situations.

Other adverse effects of these counterfeit money include black marketing of products, dumping of cheaper products and devaluation of the currency.



With the urge to know more about everything around us, I am an enthusiast researcher and writer with keen interest in expanding my knowledge in a bid to be well versed. Through writing, I express and share my feelings, ideas, and thoughts for like minded individuals.
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