Criminals earn millions a year with counterfeit expensive olive oil

An international gang with their members in Germany and Italy has managed to make millions of euros in profit with cheap sunflower oil for years. Among other things, the criminals added soybean oil, then sell the end product to German restaurants as much more expensive for extra virgin or pure olive oil. They made an estimated eight million euros in profits per year.

The olive oil was made by diluting cheap sunflower oil of one euro per liter with chlorophyll, beta-carotene and soybean oil. The color of the more expensive olive oil was simulated to fool sellers.

The counterfeit brew was then sold for around five to ten euros per liter. Europol, in collaboration with local authorities, tracked the gang. The smooth goods were manufactured by the investigative services in unsanitary conditions and transported to Germany in lorries.


The trade turned out to be quite lucrative. The gang only needed one million euros in cheap oil per year to achieve a profit of eight million euros. Europol already discovered the fraud in March. Twenty criminals were arrested in Germany and Italy. Europol also seized 150,000 liters of counterfeit oil during house searches.

©Europol – The factory where the gang copied the expensive olive oil.
©Europol – The factory where the gang copied the expensive olive oil.

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