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The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 14, April 3, 2011, Article 23

SCRAPPED EURO COIN SMUGGLING RING FOILED IN GERMANY

And in the "but-my-bag-was-only-a-teensy-bit-overweight" department, comes this article from Germany sent to us by Loren Gatch. Thanks! -Editor

Loren writes:

Here's a link to an article about recently discovered scam involving one and two Euro coins. For once, the Chinese are not counterfeiting coins--they are merely putting them back together! Nice work if you can get it...

Scrapped Euro Coin Ring Foiled

German prosecutors have uncovered a 6 million euro scam involving reconstituted euro coins that had been sold to China as scrap metal. One and two euro coins were then brought back to Germany, some via Lufthansa airline employees, and traded in at the central bank.

German investigators say they have discovered a massive scandal involving the reintroduction of euro coins that had been taken out of circulation and sold as scrap to China. The scheme, said to have cost Germany's Central Bank 6 million ($8.5 million), involved airline employees -- including Lufthansa flight attendants.

On Wednesday, authorities searched homes, businesses and offices, including those belonging to Lufthansa workers. Six people were arrested, according to public prosecutors in Frankfurt.

The scam was not complicated. Every year, tons of damaged euro coins are taken out of circulation, "destroyed," and then sold as scrap metal. Often, however, one and two euro coins are merely separated into their component parts -- the inner core are outer rings -- prior to delivery to scrap metal dealers in China.

A group in China would simply reassemble the coins. The criminals paid four airline employees, who have no weight restrictions on their baggage, to ferry the money back to Germany. They then took the coins to the Bundesbank and exchanged them for cash.

Authorities estimate the group was able to exchange 29 tons of reconstituted coins between 2007 and 2010. In raids on Wednesday, officials seized laptops, documents and a machine for pressing coins together.

According to the German tabloid Bild, the scam was only uncovered after a customs officer noticed an airline flight attendant struggling with heavy luggage. When it was opened, officials found thousands of 1 and 2 coins inside, Bild reported.

To read the complete article, see: Scrapped Euro Coin Scam Costs Bundesbank Millions (www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,754238,00.html)

Arthur Shippee reported seeing the story in The New Tork Times and another E-Sylum reader forwarded this Associated Press article. -Editor

Four flight attendants, "who have no weight limits on their luggage," are among those suspected of taking part in the scheme by carting the reassembled coins back to Germany, Moeller-Scheu said.

Four of the six people detained following a sting Wednesday in the Frankfurt region were immigrants from China, Moeller-Scheu said in a statement. No employees of the Bundesbank were among the suspects, she said.

To read the complete article, see: Germans arrest 6 in euro coin racket (news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110331/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_germany_euro_coin_racket)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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