Further decline in loss caused by counterfeits

 – Yet slight increase in the number of counterfeit euro banknotes –

In 2008, the Bundesbank detected approximately 41,000 counterfeit euro banknotes. Overall, there was a further decline in the loss arising from counterfeits. In 2008, it went down to €3.5 million mainly because fewer large denomination banknotes had been counterfeited. In 2007, the incidence of counterfeit euro banknotes amounted to 40,000 items, representing a loss of €3.8 million.

Dr Hans Reckers, the Executive Board member responsible for cash management, emphasised that “With an overall annual incidence of approximately five counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants, Germany is still well below the euro-area average”.

In the second half of 2008, the Bundesbank detected 20,833 counterfeit euro banknotes in German payment transactions. This represents an increase of approximately 5% in comparison with the first six months of the year. However, the loss arising from counterfeits continued to decrease from €1.8 million in the first half of the year to €1.7 million. This is attributable to the significant decline in counterfeit €200 notes.

The distribution of counterfeits across the denominations was as follows.


Tabelle slight decline in counterfeit banknotes
Notes5€ 10€20€50€ 100€ 200€500€ Total

The increase in counterfeit €20 and €100 banknotes detected in the first half of the year continued. For the first time in a six-month period in Germany, the €50 note was not the most frequently counterfeited denomination but the €100 note. By contrast, the number of counterfeit €200 notes almost halved, falling from 4,173 in the first half of 2008 to 2,204 in the second half of 2008.

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Banknotes should be checked carefully at all times as counterfeit money is not eligible for reimbursement.

A number of security features should always be checked as the authenticity of the banknotes can be verified only through a combination of the various features.

  • For example, embossed parts of the printed image on the front of the banknotes (“BCE ECB EZB EKT EKP” on the top edge) can be identified by touch.
  • The watermark can be recognised in the unprinted area by holding the banknote up to the light.
  • The hologram image changes when the banknote is tilted.
  • On the back of the banknote the iridescent stripe (denominations up to €20) or the shifting colours of the right-hand denomination value (denominations from €50 upwards) can be checked by tilting the banknote.

All counterfeits that have appeared until now can be identified unambiguously. It is advisable when checking a suspect banknote to compare it with one that is known to be genuine.

Checking banknotes using magnifying glasses, counterfeit detector markers and ultraviolet lamps does not always produce a clear test result. It is therefore better to use these tools in combination with a check of the other security features.

Fewer counterfeit coins

In 2008, approximately 80,000 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments. In the previous year, this figure had stood at 82,000.

In the second half of 2008, the Bundesbank detected 38,722 counterfeit euro coins in German payment transactions, which constitutes a decrease of approximately 6% in comparison with the first half of 2008. Annually, there are around 9 counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany.

The distribution of counterfeits across the denominations was as follows.

Table volume of counterfeit coins
Coins50 cent 1€2€Total

Checking coins for authenticity

Counterfeit euro coins can usually be distinguished from genuine coins only after a very thorough visual inspection. 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 is uneven.
  • Counterfeits generally have a slightly different 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 remain attracted to the magnet but can be removed again with a minimum of effort. Counterfeit coins, on the other hand, are usually either non-magnetic or are strongly attracted to the magnet.

Counterfeit prevention

Through its branch network, the Bundesbank offers training courses for the banking industry, retail traders and any other interested parties free of charge. Participants are given typical counterfeits to test using the “feel, look and tilt” method. Contact details for the branches may be found under http://www.bundesbank.de/hv/hv_filialen.en.php.

In addition, information (in the form of brochures, CD-ROMs and posters) and a new interactive learning programme entitled “Detecting Counterfeits” (Falschgeld erkennen) can be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge. Information on this subject may be found at the Bundesbank’s website (http://www.bundesbank.de/bargeld/bargeld_falschgeld.en.php),
the European Central Bank’s website http://www.ecb.int/euro/banknotes/security/html/index.en.html)
or the German police force’s website (http://www.polizei-beratung.de/themen-und-tipps/betrug/falschgeld/tipps.html,
http://www.sicherheitsmerkmale.polizei-beratung.de/20/index.htm) (available in German only)
and is updated regularly.

To ensure that important information concerning people who pass counterfeits is not lost, the Bundesbank advises you to notify the police of counterfeit banknotes and coins and to hand these in to them immediately.