Germany’s central bank has allegedly been scammed for millions with a scheme involving the recycling of damaged euro coins that had been sent off to China as scrap.
Prosecutors said a gang reassembled coins that had been broken up and used Lufthansa cabin crews to smuggle them back into Germany as airline employees do not have weight limits on their bags.
Old euro coins are broken up into the inner and an outer ring turning them into scrap metal.
Doris Möller-Scheu at the Frankfurt prosecutors office said: “Initially we believed that the coins had been reassembled in China. But searching the suspects’ premises we found a machine for putting them back together here in Germany.”
The scam unravelled when a Lufthansa stewardess was allegedly found by customs officers with thousands of coins in her bag. Six people have been arrested – four of whom are from China. Prosecutors said at least six million euros worth of coins was involved.