A store called “Bank of Russia” on the darknet marketplace Hydra has printed about a billion counterfeit rubles (no$13.2 million) in the year it has existed, the business newspaper Kommersant claims. Reporters received a tip about the counterfeit operation from sources in the Internal Affairs Ministry, which serves as Russia’s national police agency.
The high-quality bills were printed in Nizhny Novgorod and then sold through the darknet to “practically every region” in Russia, according to police sources. Those sources added that the criminal organization responsible for the fake bills included a few dozen individuals, none of whom knew any of the others.
A number of arrests have now been made in the case. Three residents of the Nizhny Novgorod region are suspected of printing the counterfeit cash; a 25-year-old woman from Moscow and a man about the same age from the Moscow suburbs allegedly created and maintained the shop on Hydra, and police have identified numerous other suspects spread through almost 30 Russian regions.
The suspects also include individuals who purchased fake cash from the organizers of the counterfeit scheme. According to Kommersant, police officers say most of the suspects, including the central organizers, have pleaded guilty. Investigators are pursuing charges of participation in a criminal group as well as counterfeiting money.