Number of counterfeits up in Germany

More counterfeit banknotes

The Bundesbank registered approximately 63,000 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €3.3 million in 2014, which represents a 63 % increase year on year. Statistically, this­ equates to eight counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants.

"Successful police investigations into international counterfeiting rings recently clearly show that organised crime is to blame for the bulk of counterfeits," said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for cash management.

The year-on-year change was due primarily to a rise in the incidence of counterfeit €50 banknotes, which almost doubled in number. Counterfeit €20 and €50 banknotes accounted for more than 80 % of the counterfeits detected in Germany.

Counterfeits are easy to recognise if they are put to the "feel, look and tilt" test. "The new 'Europa series' of banknotes takes security standards to the next level. The €20 note is the next new banknote we will be issuing," Mr Thiele explained.

The incidence of counterfeit euro banknotes in 2014 can be broken down as follows. 





















1 %

4 %

36 %

46 %

8 %

3 %

2 %


The number of counterfeits detected in the second half of 2014 (more than 38,000 banknotes) was well up on the figure for the first six months of the year (25,000).

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Banknotes should be checked carefully at all times, as counterfeit money is not eligible for reimbursement.

A number of different security features should always be checked, as it is only through a combination of these various features that the authenticity of euro banknotes can be verified.

  • For example, raised print on the front of the banknotes­ can be identified by touch.

    • First euro banknote series: the letters "BCE ECB EZB EKT EKP" near the top edge

    • New "Europa series": the letters "BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC" as well as a series of short lines on the left and right edges

  • The watermark becomes visible in the unprinted area when the banknote­ is held against the light.
  • The hologram images change when the banknote is tilted.
  • On the back of the banknote, the glossy stripe (denominations up to €20) or the change in colour of the value numeral on the right-hand side (denominations from €50 upwards) can be checked by tilting the banknote.
  • In addition, the emerald number is visible on the left-hand side on the front of the new euro banknotes ("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.

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-cut test result. It is therefore better to combine use of these tools with a check of other security features.

Number of counterfeit coins down

In 2014, just under 46,000 counterfeit coins were detected in German­ payments, compared with a figure of 52,000 in the previous year. There are thus around five counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany. 

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations, and their incidence in 2014 was as follows. 


50 cents











6 %

14 %

80 %


At roughly 26,000, the number of counterfeit coins in the second half of 2014 exceeded the figure registered in the first six months of the year (20,000). 

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 remain 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 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) can be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge. An interactive learning program entitled "Detecting Counterfeits" (Falschgeld erkennen) can also be accessed online (German only).

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 the general public to immediately notify the police of counterfeit banknotes and coins and to hand these in to the police.