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Biannual information on euro counterfeiting

15 July 2005

In the first half of 2005, 293,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. This figure is very similar to that for the second half of last year, when around 287,000 counterfeits were recovered, but lower than the 307,000 recovered during the first half of 2004. These figures should, however, be seen in the context of the number of genuine banknotes in circulation (around 9 billion).

The breakdown of counterfeit banknotes by denomination is as follows:

€5 €10 €20 €50 €100 €200 €500
Breakdown by denomination (in %) 1 6 16 62 9 5 1

The €50 has always been the denomination most favoured by counterfeiters: this trend intensified in the first half of 2005, with €50 banknotes now accounting for 62% of all counterfeits. Correspondingly, €20 and €100 banknotes were targeted less.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of counterfeits in circulation (97%) were found in the euro area. A further 2% came from other EU Member States outside the euro area, and the remaining 1% came from the “rest of the world”.

The public can have confidence in the quality of euro banknotes and their security features. However, the Eurosystem, i.e. the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 12 national central banks of the euro area, continues to advise the public to be alert to the possibility of receiving a counterfeit. Most counterfeits – even well-made ones – can be easily distinguished from genuine banknotes by using the simple FEEL-LOOK-TILT test described in the Eurosystem’s publications and on the ECB’s website[1]. But in cases of doubt, a suspect banknote should be compared directly with one that is known to be genuine.

The Eurosystem cooperates very closely with Europol, Interpol, the European Commission (which is responsible for disseminating information on counterfeit euro coins) and national police forces in combating counterfeiting. Anyone who suspects they may have received a counterfeit should contact either the police or – where national practice allows – the respective national central bank, giving as many details as possible about where the banknote originated.

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