Faking it: Italy's flourishing marketThursday, May 3, 2012. Ivan Radford @themovechannel
Italy may be struggling against a deficit of several million euros but in some markets, the country has never had more money. 550,000 fake euros are printed in the Campania region every year - 69% of the total number of fraudulent bills seized by European banks. Some immigrants from Africa and Latin America even use the counterfeit money to buy property.
Photo credit: Chu's your weapon
Italy may be struggling against a deficit of several million euros but in some markets, the country has never had more money.
550,000 fake euro notes are printed in Italy's Campania region every year - 69 per cent of the total number of fraudulent bills seized by European banks.
While property buyers used to head to Italy for sunshine and wine, an altogether different level of clientele are pouring into Puglia's apartments, producing counterfeit money that is then circulated by criminal groups all around the world.
"In Italy, there's a great, ancient and august tradition: here, they make fake money, done well," Colonel Alessandro Gentili, the head of the Italian Carabinieri's Currency Anti-Counterfeiting Unit in Rome, told The New York Times.
"Giugliano is still the capital. It has the best professionals."
For years, police have been raiding the Campania area, home to the Camorra organised crime network, for illegal presses, where everything from lire to francs have been faked. When the euro was introduced in 2002, it was only a few days until the first fraudulent notes were spotted by authorities.
Now, hundreds of thousands of counterfeit bills blend in with the 14 billion euros currently in circulation across the globe. Some immigrants from Africa and Latin America even use the fake euros to buy property.
But as Italy finds itself short of several million bob, the country's property market may not need fake currency soon to bring in the bucks, according to optimistic agents.
Buyers from Europe have been the only ones brave enough to enter the country's real estate market recently, but the growing strength of the sterling may see Brits return to Italy in 2012, with Tuscany and Umbria predicted to benefit.
If the currency trends continue this year, Italian agent Casa Travella even suggests that renewed demand could cause prices to eventually pick up:
"There has been an increase in the amount of buyers searching online in the last 12 months," Linda Travella told Property Wire.
"This is an excellent time to buy a property in Italy as the Pound is at its strongest for almost two years and prices are at their lowest. A vast selection of properties and a strong Pound means it is a buyers' market. The Tuscan real estate market has always been international and there is still interest from around the world," she added.
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