BERLIN, Nov 2, 2006 (AFP) – Euro bills in Germany have begun mysteriously disintegrating, leading police to suspect a prank using sulfuric acid, the top-selling daily Bild reported Thursday. The state crime offices in Berlin and the southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate have opened investigations after a number of bills began self-destructing across the country.
The first case surfaced in June in Berlin when a 20-euro bill crumbled upon contact.
Police first suspected a fluke but the number of “broken notes”, as investigators have dubbed the bills, continued to rise in August.
Bild said that chemists suspect the bills may have been sprinkled with a sulfate salt that becomes sulfuric acid when it comes in contact with moisture, such as hand perspiration.
The bills then gradually disintegrate.
Police said they had ruled out a printing defect and serial numbers confirm they were produced by the Federal Printing Press. Investigators suspect that would-be extortionists aim to prove they can destroy currency at will.