More counterfeit €10 and €20 banknotes in circulation
In 2020, the Bundesbank registered approximately 58,800 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €2.9 million in German payments. The number of counterfeits thus rose by 6.5% on the year, while the nominal value of the banknotes seized fell by 14.3%.
In 2019, the most frequently counterfeited denomination was the €50 banknote. In the past year, there has been a marked rise in the number of counterfeit €10 and €20 notes among the total figure,” said Johannes Beermann, the Bundesbank Executive Board member whose remit includes cash management. “
These were mainly easily identifiable counterfeits which did not even have security features, such as the watermark or the security thread. The words “movie money” were even printed on the obverse or “prop copy” on the reverse,” Mr Beermann added.
The €10 and €20 fake banknotes accounted for 46% of the overall volume of counterfeits, while the figure for the previous year was only 28%. In a cross-European comparison, there is only a below-average incidence of counterfeits in Germany. “
Statistically, this equates to around seven counterfeit banknotes for every 10,000 inhabitants per year. The likelihood of coming into contact with counterfeit money is still remote,” said Mr Beermann.
At around 24,700, the number of counterfeits detected in the second half of 2020 was considerably lower than the figure for the first half of the year (34,100). “
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a decline in the number of counterfeits over the course of the year,” Mr Beermann explained. “
This is due to the fact that households generally restricted their consumption in 2020 and had fewer opportunities to pay in cash, such as in restaurants or at Christmas markets.”
The distribution of counterfeits across the denominations in 2020 was as follows.
Recognising counterfeit banknotes
As counterfeit banknotes are not replaced, everyone should check the banknotes they receive for themselves 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.
Movie money and prop copies can easily be identified by the labelling on them.
All counterfeits can be identified by the following characteristics:
- Banknote paper feels crisp and firm.  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.
- Raised print on the front of the banknotes can be identified by touch, for example. Banknotes belonging to the Europa series show the letters “BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC” (and “ESB” on denominations of €50 and above) across their left edge as well as a series of short lines on the left and right-hand edges.
- 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.
- 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 2020, approximately 44,800 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, compared with around 42,100 coins in the previous year. Statistically, this equates to five counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany.
Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations, and their incidence in 2020 was as follows.
At roughly 22,500, the number of counterfeit coins detected in the second half of 2020 was slightly higher than the figure registered in the first six months of the year (around 22,300).
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.
Through its branch network, the Bundesbank provides training courses free of charge to the banking industry, retailers and any other interested parties. However, these cannot take place at present owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the following learning programs can be accessed via the Bundesbank’s website (German only).
In addition, information (in the form of brochures and posters) may be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge.
Information on this subject is updated regularly on the Bundesbank’s website, the European Central Bank’s website and on the German police force’s website (German only).
To ensure that important information concerning people who pass counterfeits is not lost, the Bundesbank strongly advises you to notify the police of counterfeit banknotes and coins immediately and to hand these in to the police.