Biannual information on the counterfeiting of the euro

22 July 2004

In the first half of 2004, a total of 307,223 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. This figure is of the same magnitude as that for the second half of 2003 when nearly 312,000 counterfeits were recovered.

The breakdown by denomination is as follows:

€5 €10 €20 €50 €100 €200 €500 Total
Quantity 3,258 7,955 86,671 133,921 65,393 8,889 1,136 307,223
Breakdown by denomination (in %) 1.0 2.6 28.2 43.6 21.3 2.9 0.4 100%

These figures should be seen in the perspective of the number of genuine banknotes in circulation (around nine billion). It can be misleading to compare counterfeiting figures for the euro with those for other currencies, since other currencies have (or have had) different values and circulation patterns and volumes. Now that euro banknotes have been in circulation for over two years an historical comparison is of much more relevance.

The public can be confident of the quality of the euro banknotes and their security features. However, the ECB continues to advise the public to be alert to the possibility of receiving a counterfeit. The vast majority of counterfeit euro banknotes can be easily distinguished from genuine ones by using the simple FEEL-LOOK-TILT test described in the Eurosystem’s information material.[1] Even well-made counterfeits can be detected by carefully applying this method. If in doubt a suspect banknote should be compared with one that is known to be genuine.

The Eurosystem co-operates very closely with Europol, Interpol, the European Commission and national police forces in the fight against counterfeiting. Anyone who receives a counterfeit banknote is requested to hand it in to local police giving as many details as possible regarding its origin.

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