Bulgaria busts counterfeit gang that used fake passport of U.S. actor as sample

A handout image shows a counterfeit Bulgarian passport bearing a picture and the name of U.S. actor Sylvester Stallone, seized during a specialized police operation and released on January 29, 2021, Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office/Handout via REUTERS

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian authorities have busted a counterfeit gang that promoted the quality of its illegal documents and banknotes by showing a fake Bulgarian passport bearing the picture of U.S. actor Sylvester Stallone.

Prosecutors on Friday charged four Bulgarians suspected of belonging to an organised crime ring making and distributing the fake Bulgarian documents and counterfeit U.S. dollar and euro bills in the Balkan country.

The four were arrested after printing presses and equipment for the production of counterfeit banknotes and documents were found following searches at 30 locations across Bulgaria in a joint operation with Europol and the U.S. Secret Service.

During a search in an apartment in the southern city of Plovdiv, police seized large amounts of high quality fake euro and dollar bills as well as fake Bulgarian ID cards and driving licences.

“Officers have also seized a Bulgarian passport with the picture of a famous U.S. actor, which was used as a sample to demonstrate to clients the high quality of their counterfeit production,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Gareth Jones