Spanish Man’s Counterfeit Euro Scheme to Feed Betting Habit Falls Apart

Posted on: May 19, 2022, 06:04h. 

Last updated on: May 19, 2022, 09:16h.

A Spanish man from the town of Cuéllar thought he had an ingenious way to launder counterfeit money for clean bills to use on sports bets. However, it fell apart, and police tracked him down by following the breadcrumbs.

Spanish Civil Guard
A Spanish Civil Guard vehicle outside the Royal Palace in Madrid. A division of the police force recently arrested a man for using counterfeit currency that he cleaned to purchase sports betting. (Image: Shutterstock)

The Spanish Civil Guard is investigating a man for paying with counterfeit bills in a fast-food eatery in Cuéllar, a town of fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. He faces charges for the crimes of theft, identity theft, and the counterfeiting of currency.

The investigation, carried out by members of the Team Against Subtractions in Agricultural and Livestock Farms (ROCA, for its Spanish acronym) of the Civil Guard of Cuéllar, began a few weeks ago. They received a complaint that someone, on several occasions, had paid with counterfeit €20 (US$21.05) bills in an the unidentified establishment in that town.

Following the Scent

The Civil Guard then initiated its so-called ‘BILET SG’ investigation to clarify what was or wasn’t taking place. In that process, a pattern began to emerge.

The modus operandi used was the same on all occasions. A man paid for his food orders with counterfeit €20 bills. He expected the fact that he was taking advantage of the hours of greatest consumer traffic to hide his actions.

The workers noticed the scam when they zeroed out the cash register at the end of the shift. After studying the banknotes used, they concluded that, although they had a similarity in visual characteristics with those of legal tender, they were false.

As the Civil Guard intervened, they were able to uncover more details. They learned that the alleged perpetrator of the acts had a consistent habit. Each time he received the change from his purchases, he went directly to a nearby bookmaker.

The police were able to track the man through the identification he used at the sportsbook. Police subsequently located him in the city of Cantalejo, about 25 miles away.

To their surprise, however, they had followed the wrong trail. When the police caught up to him, he informed them that someone of foreign nationality had stolen his documentation and identification a few days prior.

Given that Cantalejo’s population is only around 4,000, there aren’t many places to hide. Subsequently, the Civil Guard caught the real perpetrator, who will now answer for his crimes.

Counterfeit Money Remains Big Business

Counterfeit currency is as old as currency itself. Currently, estimates put the total circulation of combined counterfeit notes at over $1 billion.

There has been a reduction in the fake euro, though, as authorities confiscated over 347,000 last year. That was a 24.6% decline from the previous year, which may be a good sign. Perhaps the technology that goes into printing notes and incorporating anti-counterfeiting measures is working. What is undoubtedly working is the shift to digital payments.

Not everyone goes for the sophisticated route when trying to falsify currency. Last December, Tan Chen Yen, a bank operations specialist, snatched more than S$1 million (US$722,500) in cash from his employer while he was working to pay his debts and indulge his gambling addiction.

When a colleague discovered an envelope containing blank sheets of paper cut into currency notes that Tan had placed in a safe, the ruse ended. Tan was sentenced to seven years and five months’ imprisonment for his crimes, which occurred between 2016-2018.