Police have seized hundreds of thousands of shekels in forged bank notes after discovering a counterfeit printing factory in Kfar Azar east of Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening.
Police have arrested two men in their 30s in connection with the factory and confiscated bundles of NIS 20, NIS 50 and NIS 100 notes. They also seized ink, paper-cutting machines, drying equipment and computers.
Police believe that the suspects, Ilan Parshetzky from Ramat Gan and Doron Feldman from Rishon Lezion, sold the counterfeit money to small shops and pizzerias. The two men were remanded for a week on Wednesday.
Matan Glatt of Tel Aviv Police's Central Investigative Unit said on Wednesday that the forgeries were of such high quality that it was very difficult to spot them with the naked eye. He said the amount of fake money produced in the operation had the potential to run in the millions, but he was unable to say for certain.
"A professional can perhaps do it, but for an ordinary citizen it's very hard. The quality of the paper is excellent," he said.
The factory had been operating for between six and eight months, so the money had entered the economy and it would be "very problematic" to identify, he said. Anyone could have the notes in their wallet and not know they were fake, he said.
"If you received change from any number of small stores, it's reasonable to think you could have received them," Glatt said. He said currency received from banks was unlikely to be fake.
"If an average citizen receives a lot of cash he should go to the bank, where they have the ability to check if the money is genuine. But if somebody makes a purchase in a convenience store, pizzeria or small store, it's a problem, because you can't check every note," said Glatt.
Police are investigating whether the shop owners knew they were receiving forged bank notes.
"I can't say for certain, but they should have known because they didn't pay the full price for the money," said Glatt.
He said that Parshetzky and Feldman faced seven years in prison for printing and circulating the money and five years for owning the counterfeiting equipment.