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A Ghoulish Business

As a precious metals refiner, Leon Toffel is used to dealing with fine dust. But some years ago, when he received globules of molten metal in the post, he realised there was a new market to be mined. Toffel's new client was a retiring crematorium worker.

Leon Toffel estimates that five per cent of his business comes from sources in crematoria. "We processed it like any other scrap," he said "When people retire, that's a classic time when they pass on stuff . To a certain extent, it's like a little pension pay-out."

In just two years, six workers at a crematorium in Nuremberg earned more than £100,000 by selling gold teeth to a local jeweller. Under German law, they could not be charged with theft because the gold was not said to belong to anyone after the process of cremation. For some, the story raised painful associations with The Holocaust.