Counterfeit detection in eurozone and Russia

Earlier this year, some European central banks and the Bank of Russia released last year counterfeiting statistics. Figures of counterfeiting in the eurozone and Russia signal a relatively small amount of fake banknotes and coins detected in comparison with the total money stock, revealing the preferences of European and Russian forgers.

According to the ECB’s press-release, 353,000 counterfeits of different denominations were withdrawn in the second half of 2016, a little increase compared with the first half, but considerably less by 20.7% than in the same period of 2015. «Against a backdrop of increasing money stock which reached over 19bn in the second half of 2016, the number of counterfeits remains at a low level,» says the ECB in its’ press-release.

The regulator argues that the €20 and the €50 notes are still among the most counterfeited denominations accounting, in general, over 80% of the total number of counterfeits detected. Meanwhile, there’s a trend of a slow decrease of the amount of the €5 notes, with the €20 counterfeits being on the rise. The number of the €500 notes accounted was only at 4.9%. In terms of geographic distribution, counterfeiting statistics looks the following way: the eurozone countries account for 93.6% of counterfeits, the non-eurozone states– around 5.4%, countries outside the EU – 1%.

The Deutsche Bundesbank said that 82,200 counterfeit notes amounting to 4.2m euros were registered in Germany, which is by 14% less on a year-on-year basis. This means that each ten thousand of the population accounts for 10 fake notes. «Since introducing of the €20 note the Europa series, the number of counterfeits has sharply reduced twice,» Board member of the Deutsche Bundesbank Karl-Ludwig Tille told to the reporters. He expressed confidence that the issuance of €50 note with improved protection, planned for this April, will reduce the number of counterfeits of this denomination. The €50 note is currently the most counterfeited note accounting for over 60% of the total counterfeits.

As far as counterfeit coins are concerned, the number of fake notes detected in Germany was estimated at 33,000 pcs. last year, less by 8% than in the same period in 2015.

From the figures that we have, the minimal turnover of counterfeits was detected last year in Estonia. 518 counterfeit euros were detected last year in this country, which is, accordingly to what is said by the bank, the least amount of fakes compared with the other EU members. The €50 note is the most counterfeited denomination amounting to 348 pcs., or 67% of the total. 77 fake notes of the €500 denomination were also detected, 66 of them turned out to be souvenirs. By the end of 2016, the number of detected counterfeits dropped by 12% in the second half in comparison with the first half of the year. The total number of fake notes detected in Estonia in 2016 generally equated to the statistics in 2015. The Bank of Estonia explains a low level of counterfeits by the uptake of digital payments, as well as introduction of new methods of banknote authentication.

Given the eurozone statistics for many years, 2015 was the most difficult period in terms of counterfeiting since the introduction of the euro currency in 2002. The newspaper Deutsche Welle told then that 899,000 counterfeit notes were detected in 12 months. Referring to the ECB’s figures, the newspaper pointed out almost 11% of this amount was detected by police, trade companies and German banks where counterfeits rose by 51% over 2015. As a result, the financial system suffered losses at 4.4m euro, which is 1m more than in 2014.

However, the damage was more considerable in 2004 and 2005 amounting to 6.1m euro and 4.9m euro, respectively. Then counterfeiters imitated more often high-denomination notes, mostly the €100 and the €200. The financial system suffered losses at 39m euro in 2015.

According to the recent figures of the Bank of Russia, 61,046 counterfeit notes were detected in the banking system of Russia in 2016. The ₱5,000 notes are among the most widespread counterfeits, amounting to 36,184 pcs. The share of the ₱1,000 counterfeit notes are 1/3 less, (than ₱5,000 notes) amounting to 22,321 pcs. The ₱10 notes are at the bottom of the list, with only 15 pcs. detected. There were 20 ₱10 fake coins and 153 ₱5 fake coins detected as well.

4,546 counterfeit notes of foreign countries were detected in Russia in 2016. Most fake notes were detected in November – 863 pcs., with the least number of counterfeit money in January –149 pcs. Dollars were the most counterfeited currency amounting to 4,334 pcs. Law enforcement also seized fake Euro, Chinese yuan, Pound Sterling and two Japanese yen. Detected counterfeits included one Australian fifty-dollar note.

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