More counterfeit €200 and €500 banknotes in circulation

In the first half of 2023, the Bundesbank withdrew approximately 26,700 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of just under €2.9 million from circulation in Germany. The number of counterfeits rose by 10% compared with the second half of 2022. The incidence of counterfeit banknotes is still low, however. Statistically speaking, there were six counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants, stated Burkhard Balz, the Bundesbank Executive Board member whose remit includes cash management. 

In particular, the number of counterfeit €200 and €500 banknotes rose, pushing the loss arising from counterfeiting 66% higher in the first six months of 2023 than it had been in the second half of 2022. The counterfeit €200 and €500 banknotes were mainly used in fraudulent dealings involving luxury goods such as jewellery, gold bars, watches and cars, Balz noted. 

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


H1 2023

Share (rounded)

Change compared to H2 2022

































The proportion of simple counterfeits with the words “movie money” printed on the obverse side or “prop copy” on the reverse remains high. On some of these 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.

More counterfeit coins in circulation

While some 40,800 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments in the second half of 2022, 49,000 counterfeit coins were detected in the first half of 2023. In statistical terms, this equates to around twelve counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany in the first six months of 2023. The significant rise (+21%) is due to the fact that credit institutions and cash-in-transit companies are still working through backlogs of coins no longer fit for circulation that accumulated during the pandemic. These backlogs included counterfeit coins too.

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



Share (rounded)

50 cent












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.