Italian police discovered over 500,000 euros’ ($623,000) worth of counterfeit coinage from a Chinese mint on Dec. 12 in a container ship docked in Naples.
In what is the biggest single discovery of counterfeit euros since the establishment of the Eurozone in 2002, 12 individuals, including four Chinese, were arrested and investigated.
The shipment, totaling in at 556,000 counterfeit euros, was supposed to be injected into the Italian market sometime before Christmas, as revealed by the investigation. Around 36,000 of the coins were of the 1- and 2-euro denominations.
According to officials involved with the case, who spoke to local media, the 2-euro counterfeits were “perfect reproductions,” impossible to tell apart from genuine coins using the naked eye. Even vending machines would have had trouble detecting the fakes.
The arrested suspects face charges of “conspiracy to create” and “disseminate counterfeit currency.” Police said that more thorough investigations are underway.