Police have arrested 11 individuals in one of the biggest counterfeit currency scams ever uncovered in Israel. The group operated a sophisticated workshop in Ashdod where they counterfeited new NIS 100 and 200 bills – bills that were designed to be very difficult to counterfeit, according to officials.
The group was arrested at several locations in southern Israel, after a months-long investigation, police said. Tens of thousands of shekels in phony cash were confiscated as well, but it is unknown how much of the currency got out into the market. However, it is likely that the amount is in the millions, officials said.
This is not the first group of counterfeiters who have attempted to manufacture phony copies of the newly designed bills. According to the Bank of Israel, the reason why previous groups of counterfeiters were caught was because of the new security features of the bills – making it easier for merchants to differentiate between a real and phony bill. “We use the most advanced security measures on our new bills,” the Bank said. “They are clear yet very advanced, making it easy for anyone to identify a counterfeit bill.” According to Bank of Israel CEO Hezi Kalo, “The security features were designed to be recognized and identified by the general public. You do not need to be an expert in banknotes in order to verify them.”