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Authorities have confiscated $6trillion in counterfeit U.S. bonds – including phoney billion dollar bills – at the request of Italian prosecutors.
In Italy, eight people were arrested across the country and placed under investigation for fraud and other crimes.
The eight alleged fraudsters are accused of counterfeiting bonds, credit card forgery, and usury in the Italian regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, Lazio and Basilicata, police said.
Bogus: The bonds were seized in Switzerland following after a year-long investigation
Not worth the paper they’re written on: One of the forged binds, which investigators believe was to be sold on to a developing country
The bonds, carrying the false date of issue of 1934, had been transported in 2007 from Hong Kong to Zurich, where they were transferred to a Swiss trust, according to prosecutors in the southern Italian city of Potenza.
Authorities said that U.S. officials had confirmed the bonds were counterfeit.
Fraud on a massive scale: The bonds were dated from 1934 – but U.S. authorities were able to confirm that they were fake
Prosecutors said the fraud had not been completed, but that it appeared that the suspects intended to try to sell the fake bonds to a developing nation, directly or through an intermediary bank.
The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s office said Zurich state prosecutors had worked on the investigation at the request of the Italian prosecutor. The Swiss handed over their findings in July of last year.
Paper trail: An Italian Carabinieri shows off the stash fake bonds
The huge haul could make a huge dent in Italy’s national debt, which currently stands at around $2,525,436,170,700 (€1,920,483,780,000).
Recently, Carabinieri carrying out a routine search at a highway rest stop found a briefcase containing $20billion in fake bonds.
And in 2009, Italian financial police seized $742billion of fake U.S. bearer bonds in the northern Italian town of Chiasso, near the Swiss border.
Case for the prosecution: The bonds were sealed in this trunk