In a bid to earn a little extra pocket money, three young women in Lucerne decided to fish out coins left in the pond by the city’s famous Lion Monument.
The monument – a tribute to the Swiss Guards killed in 1792 during the French revolution – is a popular tourist sight with many visitors throwing small change into the surrounding pond.
The women expected to come away with just a few coins. Instead, they found around 400 francs the first time they collected the money. This amount then rose to 600 francs on another occasion when they used snorkel masks and plastic bags to collect their spoils, according to regional daily Luzerner Zeitung.
The women separated the money they collected into two boxes – one for foreign currency and one for Swiss francs, which they went on to spend.
But as the coins they retrieved were covered in algae, the fishers were forced to mix them up with other change to make them less conspicuous.
Then the group came up with the novel idea of using vending machines to “wash the money”. They would use as many coins as possible to buy the cheapest possible products and would obtain “laundered” coins as change.
The three women have since given up their fishing trips and have gone on to become teachers, according to Luzerner Zeitung.
Meanwhile, police told the newspaper the practice was not illegal. A spokesperson for the force said anyone who threw money into a pond gave up ownership rights.
The city of Lucerne clears out the Lion Monument twice a year at which point city gardeners collect any coins they find. These are then donated to charity.