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Turning "decoined" coins into cash again

Started by chrisild, March 31, 2011, 10:55:25 AM

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What happens with coins that are no longer "fit" for circulation? In Germany you can take them to the Bundesbank if they are worn or damaged, and get the equivalent amount. Sounds fair, except you can make money this way ... if you do it "right". German police searched offices and apartments of Lufthansa and Bundesbank staff in the Rhine-Main area yesterday. Six people were arrested.

Why? Apparently a gang of at least two dozen criminals was involved in an interesting "deal": They probably bought decoined pieces, ie. scrap metal, at Vebeg auctions (Vebeg is a government agency/company that auctions federal property which is no longer used) and brought them to China. But instead of being used as raw material for other purposes, the coins were then "reassembled" and brought back to Germany, for example by Lufthansa flight attendants.

The amounts that these people would carry was always below €10,000. While you can of course bring in more money, you would have to notify German customs if the total exceeds that amount. However, customs officials have in the past found several bags of coins in the luggage of some passengers, typically in the 8,000 to 9,000 euro range. The usual explanation: Friends or co-workers in Asia wanted to get the pieces exchanged because they had a few damages, he or she was just doing them a favor and would later bring the equivalent back to China.

Except these "coins" had been "made" by putting different parts of decoined pieces together. The newly combined pieces would look different from regularly decoined ones. They could then be turned into money as some people at the Bundesbank who were involved in the deal (Edit - see followup post) would consider them to be valid but damaged coins.

Here are a few articles in German:
(from today's Der Spiegel)
(Bild is a yellow press paper, had today's story first)
(a Spiegel article from a few weeks ago)



The Staatsanwaltschaft (DA's Office) in Frankfurt has issued a press release, and apparently the total volume of these deals was 6 million euro. The DA also states that among the suspects there are no Bundesbank employees. The way this works was a little different:

Usually such damaged coins are put into standardized "safebags". The Bundesbank will then weigh the bags, do random checks of the pieces, and at the end pay the equivalent amount. So all these people had to do is buy some of these bags, and fill each with "coins" worth €1,000. They would usually mix valid but damaged coins and the reassembled scrap metal pieces. Between 2007 and late 2010, about 29,000 kilos were exchanged this way. During the searches, police found about 3,000 kilos of "coin parts", and also a machine that combines the ring and the pill of a duplex piece. So maybe not all the "work" was outsourced to China ...


Ukrainii Pyat

One in English, maybe the stewardess should have learned to lift weights:
Донецк Украина Donets'k Ukraine


It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.


First Chinese fakes ( of course there are other countires just as able)  And now Chinese reassembly of scrapped Euro coins:



Oh well, as long as the guy only cheats in Austria, that is indeed a solely Austrian issue. Hope he does not try that in Germany. ;)

Sure, as long as you simply buy actual euro coins in a country where, for whichever reason, they are cheap, why not bring them back and use them at face? But you should (at least in Germany) not try to turn scrap metal back into money ...



Without having more detail available, I tend to side with the Austrian judge. I think it is the responsibility of the mints to make sure demonetised coins cannot be used again. Of course, they can always be melted and coined with fake dies again, but just taking bimetallic coins apart seems insufficient to me.

Another situation is when coins end up in some quantity (e.g. from parking meters) in another country and are sold at a discount. It should be legal to buy them, take them to the country they circulate in and keep the difference.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.