More counterfeits in circulation Slight increase in counterfeit banknotes in Germany
In 2022, the Bundesbank registered approximately 44,100 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €2.7 million in German payments. The number of counterfeits was thus up by 5.2% on the year.
“Counterfeit numbers went up slightly in 2022. This is likely due to the fact that the coronavirus restrictions of the two previous years were largely set aside and events like fairs and Christmas markets – where cash is the predominant mode of payment – took place once more,” said Burkhard Balz, the Bundesbank’s Executive Board member responsible for cash management.
“Overall, however, the volume of counterfeit banknotes remains very low: statistically speaking, there were just five counterfeit banknotes per every 10,000 inhabitants in 2022.”
As in previous years, easily identifiable counterfeits marked with the words “movie money” or “prop copy” accounted for the largest share. These notes do not exhibit any security features.
As counterfeit banknotes are not replaced, everyone should check banknotes for themselves using the “feel, look, tilt” method,” noted Mr Balz. He recommended comparing any suspect banknote with one definitely known to be genuine and always checking more than one security feature.
The distribution of counterfeits across denominations in 2022 was as follows.
At around 24,400, the total number of counterfeits detected in the second half of 2022 was higher than the figure for the first half of the year (19,800).
Recognising counterfeit banknotes
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.
The €100 and €200 euro banknote 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 2022, approximately 73,400 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, compared with around 41,100 coins in the previous year. Statistically, this equates to nine counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany. The huge increase was mainly due to a number of special cases where businesses had collected suspected counterfeit coins over a period of years and then submitted them to the Bundesbank as a single batch in 2022.
Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations, and their incidence in 2022 was as follows.
At roughly 40,800, the number of counterfeit coins detected in the second half of 2022 was significantly higher than the figure registered in the first six months of the year (around 32,600).
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. Participants are given typical counterfeits to test using the “feel, look and tilt” method. Contact details for the branches may be found on the Bundesbank's website.
In addition, information (in the form of brochures and posters) may be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge. An interactive learning program entitled “Detecting counterfeits” [Falschgeld erkennen] may also be accessed online (German only).
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 immediately and to hand them in to the police.