Further decline in loss caused by counterfeits

- but increase in the number of counterfeit euro banknotes -

The loss in Germany due to counterfeits showed a further decline in the first half of 2009.During this period, the Bundesbank recorded a loss of approximately €1.6 million arising from counterfeits, compared with €1.7 million in the second half of 2008. This was due mainly to a marked decline in counterfeit €100 and €200 banknotes.During the same period, the number of counterfeit euro banknotes, at 24,344, increased by around 17% on the preceding half-year.

Helmut Rittgen, Head of the Cash Department at the Bundesbank, stressed that “With an incidence of approximately six counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants each year, Germany is still well below the euro-area average”.

The distribution of counterfeits across the denominations was as follows.

Table counterfeit banknotes
Notes5€ 10€20€50€ 100€ 200€500€ Total

The increase in counterfeit €20 banknotes, which was already observed in the first half of last year, continued. There was a change for the better in the case of €100 banknotes, however.While counterfeits of this denomination were still the most common in the second half of 2008 (32%), €50 banknotes are now again the most frequently counterfeited denomination.

According to Mr Rittgen, a key part in combating counterfeits is played by the Bundesbank’s prevention and information activities. “The training courses offered free of charge by the Bundesbank continue to meet with a very positive response. There is also keen interest in our interactive CD-ROM learning programme,” he said.

Recognising counterfeit banknotes
Mr Rittgen pointed out that 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. When checking a suspect banknote, it is advisable 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 the first half of 2009, the Bundesbank detected 32,868 counterfeit euro coins. This was a fall of roughly 15% in comparison with the second half of 2008. Annually, there are around eight counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany.

The distribution of counterfeits across the denominations was as follows.

Table Counterfeit euro coins
Coins50 cent 1€2€Total

There was a marked reduction in counterfeit €2 coins compared with last year. The incidence of €1 coin counterfeits remained virtually unchanged, however.

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.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.