Counterfeit money – 2nd half of 2023

Considerably more counterfeits in circulation Increase primarily in counterfeit €200 and €500 banknotes

In 2023 in Germany, the Bundesbank registered approximately 56,600 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €5.1 million in German payments. The number of counterfeits was thus up by 28.2% on the year. 

“The increase in counterfeit figures was driven by a handful of major cases of fraud, predominantly involving counterfeit €200 and €500 banknotes,” stated Burkhard Balz, the Bundesbank’s Executive Board member responsible for cash management. He explained that around a dozen fraudulent transactions in luxury goods such as jewellery, gold bars, watches and cars meant that the loss arising from counterfeits ended up being 90% higher in 2023 than it had been the year before. “Overall, the incidence of counterfeiting is still low and the risk to members of the public remains small: the number of counterfeits in 2023 averaged out at about seven banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants.”

The table below shows the distribution of counterfeits across the various denominations in 2023 and changes compared with 2022.



Share (rounded)

Year-on-year change

































At around 29,900, the number of counterfeits detected in the second half of 2023 was higher than the figure for the first half of the year (26,690).

As in previous years, easy-to-spot counterfeits marked “movie money” or “prop copy” made up a large proportion of the fake banknotes, especially when it came to €10 and €20 denominations. These notes do not exhibit any security features. On some of the specimens the label “movie money” had been covered over and replaced with an imitation signature.

Fake banknotes “MovieMoney” and “Crop copy”

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

As counterfeit banknotes are not replaced, banknotes should be checked using the “feel, look, tilt” method. It is advisable to compare a suspect banknote with one definitely known to be genuine and to always check more than one security feature. 

All counterfeits can be identified by the following authentication features:

  • Feel:
    • Most euro banknotes have paper that is crisp and firm to the touch, which means it is often possible to identify simple counterfeits just by feeling the banknote. However, to be on the safe side, the Bundesbank recommends checking other features as well.
      A coating was applied to €5 and €10 banknotes from the Europa series, as well as some of the Europa series €20 notes; those notes feel smooth and firm. Both coated and uncoated €20 banknotes are in circulation.
    • Raised print on the front of the banknotes can be identified by touch. For example, banknotes belonging to the Europa series have the letters “BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC” (and “ESB” on denominations of €50 and above) down their left edge as well as a series of short lines on the left and right-hand edges.
  • Look:
    • When any banknote is held against the light, the watermark appears as a shadowy image in the unprinted area.
    • On denominations of €20 and above belonging to the Europa series, the upper section of the hologram contains a transparent window showing a portrait of Europa, a figure from Greek mythology.
  • Tilt:
    • The hologram images change when the banknote is tilted. Rainbow-coloured effects appear around the motifs.
    • An emerald number can also be seen on the bottom left-hand side on the front of the banknotes belonging to the Europa series. When the banknote is tilted, the emerald number changes colour and the effect of a light stripe moving up and down becomes visible.
    • The €100 and €200 banknotes have been equipped with new and improved security features. The emerald number contains several euro symbols that change in size and colour. The hologram contains a satellite feature showing two euro symbols that move around the denomination number.

Number of counterfeit coins significantly higher

In 2023, approximately 115,900 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments; the previous year’s figure was around 73,400. Statistically, this equates to 14 counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany. The main reason for the unusual increase is that some companies accumulated coins that they suspected of being counterfeits over a number of years and then submitted them to the Bundesbank as a batch in 2023. There was also a rise in the number of counterfeit €2 coins being introduced into the payments system. 

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations, and their incidence in 2023 was as follows.



Share (rounded)

50 cent












At roughly 66,800, the number of counterfeit coins detected in the second half of 2023 was significantly higher than the figure registered in the first six months of the year (around 49,000).

Checking coins for authenticity

The following pointers can make it easier to identify genuine coins.

  • On genuine euro coins, the motif stands out clearly from the background of the coin. By contrast, the image on counterfeit coins often appears blurred, and the surface of the coins may be uneven.
  • Counterfeits generally differ slightly in colour from genuine coins.
  • The edge inscriptions of genuine €2 coins are sharp. Those on counterfeit coins are frequently incomplete or irregular.
  • Genuine €1 and €2 coins are only slightly magnetic. They are attracted to magnets but can be removed again with very little effort. Counterfeit coins, on the other hand, are usually either non-magnetic or are strongly attracted to magnets. 

Counterfeit prevention

Through its branch network, the Bundesbank provides training courses on counterfeit prevention free of charge to the banking industry, retailers and any other interested parties. In addition, online training modules (German only) can be accessed via the Bundesbank’s website.

Information (in the form of brochures and posters) may also be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge.