Police said on Monday they had captured members of a gang that allegedly planned to forge large numbers of NIS 10 coins and flood the market with the fake currency.
The undercover operation by the Lahav 433 serious crimes unit busted the ring, which included four men and a woman.
On Sunday, police, who had been following the suspects for some time, swooped down on a building in the central region of the country and caught two members of the gang in the act of producing the NIS 10 coins ($2.50).
In a statement, police said the lab was equipped with a template, raw materials and the machinery to engineer up to half a million coins every day, worth the equivalent of $1.27 million.
“The findings and seized materials raise the suspicion that this was a laboratory with the technological means to produce masses of coins, estimated to reach an output of half a million coins per day,” police said, and warned of the potential damage that large amounts of forged currency can cause to the market.
At the site, police found thousands of coins ready for use, with others in various states of completion.
According to police, the suspects carried out practice runs of introducing the coins into circulation, including checking how realistic they looked.
Authentic Israeli NIS 10 coins are bronze with a nickel ring and weigh about seven grams each.
The coins are embossed on the face side with a seven-leaved palm tree along with two baskets of dates, the state emblem, and the words “for the redemption of Zion” in modern and ancient Hebrew scripts. On the reverse side the coins have their value, print date according to the Hebrew calendar, and “Israel” written in Hebrew, English, and Arabic.
The four suspects were to be brought to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Monday to be remanded in custody.