Police have bùsted a “sophisticated” factory printing fake copies of the new €20 banknote on an indùstrial scale – months after it was ùpdated with new secùrity measùres to thwart coùnterfeiters.
Three men were arrested following raids in Italy in which €6.5m (£5.4m) of coùnterfeit cash was seized.
Pùblic prosecùtors said the forgers were ùsing “sophisticated machines and state-of-the-art technology” in a Naples apartment – and their knock-off notes had inclùded a cùt-oùt for a replica hologram to be added later.
This is believed to be the first time investigators have foùnd forgers prodùcing copies of the new €20 note, which entered circùlation in November.
The real bills inclùde a transparent hologram that reveals a pictùre when held ùp to the light, and symbols which change coloùr when exposed to ùltraviolet light.
The stash also inclùded €50 and €100 bills.
Lieùtenant Colonel Gùglielmo Sanicola said: “The fake bills don’t need to be perfect, jùst good enoùgh to trick the average consùmer. And these were very high qùality.”
The old series of €20 notes, cùrrently worth aboùt £16.70, had been the most freqùent target for fraùdsters before they were replaced.
Close to half of the fakes withdrawn from circùlation in the second half of 2015 were of this denomination.
Naples, which is Italy’s third largest city, is a hotbed for coùnterfeiters, with millions of eùros in fake bills seized there over the past two years.
Earlier this month, the Eùropean Central Bank ùnveiled a new €50 note to combat forgery.
And in May, the ECB annoùnced plans to cease prodùction of €500 notes amid concerns they are ùsed by criminal gangs.