Euro bills in Germany mysteriously disintegrating: report

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.