More counterfeit notes, fewer counterfeit coins

- Marked increase in occurrence of counterfeit €50 notes -

More counterfeit banknotes
In the first half of 2010, the Bundesbank detected approximately 33,700 counterfeit euro banknotes. This means that the number of counterfeits rose by 20 percent compared with the second half of 2009. Over the same period, the loss as a result of counterfeit money rose from €1.6 million to €1.9 million.

“With around eight counterfeits per 10,000 inhabitants per year, Germany is still well below the euro-area average,” said Helmut Rittgen, Head of the Cash Department at the Deutsche Bundesbank.

The distribution of counterfeits across the denominations in the first half of 2010 was as follows.

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

Almost two out of every three counterfeits concerned the €50 banknote. Thus, the share of counterfeit €50 notes increased appreciably compared with the second half of 2009. “The greatest risk of coming across counterfeit money is in the retail sector,” Rittgen continued. For this reason, through its branch network the Bundesbank offers workshops on recognising counterfeits to the banking industry, retail traders and any other interested parties free of charge.

“Counterfeit money should be immediately reported to the police, who will then investigate the matter,” Rittgen emphasised.

Recognising counterfeit banknotes
Banknotes should always be examined carefully, 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 images change 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.

When checking a suspect banknote, it is advisable to compare it with one that is known to be genuine, for example a banknote withdrawn from an ATM.  

Checking banknotes using a magnifying glass, counterfeit detector marker or an ultraviolet lamp does not always produce a clear test result. It is therefore better to combine use of these tools with a check of the other security features.

Fewer counterfeit coins
The Bundesbank identified 33,600 counterfeit euro coins in German payment transactions in the first half of 2010. This constitutes a decrease of approximately 27% compared with the previous six-month period. Counterfeiting affected only the three highest denominations, and was distributed as follows.

Table Counterfeit euro 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 check. 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 while 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

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 ( the European Central Bank’s website ( or the German police force’s website (, (available in German only) and is updated regularly.

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 and to hand these in to the police immediately.