A recent news by Bild Newspaper reported that some Lufthansa crews smuggle fake euro coins back to Germany. The fake euro coins scrapped by the Bundesbank were reassembled in China and smuggled back to Germany by the Lufthansa crew. Accomplices at the German central bank then swapped them for notes. Six people had been arrested so far with a discovery of at least 6 million euro coin fraud.
The investigation start in early 2010 when a customs officer stopped a stewardess who is struggling to lift her bag at a German airport. They found, thousands of one and two euro coins in her bag. The incident sparked an investigation that has uncovered a forgery ring stretching to China and potentially implicating employees of German airline Lufthansa. Airline cabin crew do not have a weight limit on their baggage.
The Frankfurt prosecutors' office said on Thursday it carried out dawn raids on offices and residences and arrested six people, four of whom are from China. It suspects them of having smuggled coins that had been taken out of circulation or bits of those coins into Germany from China, where they had been sent as scrap metal. The suspects then put the coins back together and exchanged them for a total of 6 million euros at the Bundesbank from 2007 to 2010, the prosecutors said.
Every year the Bundesbank takes out of circulation hundreds of tons of damaged coins and breaks them into separate metals, which are then shipped to China. Some fell into the hands of criminal gangs, who hired flight attendants to take them back. Old euro coins are taken out of circulation by removing the inner part of the coin from an outer ring and thus effectively turning them into scrap metal. The Bundesbank is the only institute in Europe that exchanges damaged euro coins for free, replacing them with new ones of the same value.
The investigators recovered around 3 metric tons of coin pieces as well as a machine for putting them back together, prosecutors said in the statement.