Dozens arrested after crackdown on fake euros

Sicilian "Naples Group" thought to be responsible for 90% of all counterfeit euros in circulation

56 people have been arrested for counterfeiting banknotes after a police crackdown on the so-called ‘Naples Group’, in Sicily.

The fake currency, equivalent to one million euros, was seized by Italy’s Carabinieri military police . During the course of the two-year investigation, police said they seized 5,500 counterfeit banknotes and coins.

“The uncontrolled spread of these bank notes can cause serious damage,” said Neapolitan Prosecutor Giovanni Colancelo.

Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Morocco, Romania, Senegal, Spain and Tunisia were most affected by the counterfeiting, police said.

Investigators said the Napoli Group had achieved "complete control of the international market through the distribution of significant amounts of fake money in Italy and all over the world", being responsible for 90% of all fake euros in circulation.

Police also confiscated a stash of fake lottery tickets.

The EU has beein increasing its efforts to curb the problem of counterfeit currency, recently adopting a Directive on the Protection of the Euro.

After a two year investigation, the Carabinieri discovered a sophisticated production and distribution process involving bogus banknotes that even found their way to Africa.

Francesco Ferace, a member of the Carabinieri’s Anti-Counterfeiting Unit, told journalists that a 300 euro note – a denomination that doesn’t exist – was designed by a forger from Naples and used in northern Europe.

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