European Central Bank: Counterfeit Bills Increased Last Year


Counterfeit money schemes appear to have increased in prevalence in Europe, though the European Central Bank did not voice any major concerns. On Monday, the ECB announced that the amount of fake money pulled out of circulation in the last half of 2013 had reached the highest level since the same period in 2010. The central bank is fighting back with a new version of the 10-euro bill, one that’s meant to be more difficult for counterfeiters to recreate.

According to an ECB press release on the matter, there were approximately 353,000 counterfeit bills caught by the end of 2013, a number the bank emphasizes is not particularly large when considering the 15 billion notes floating around that aren’t fake. Per the press release, that amounts to a mere 0.00235 percent of the total number in circulation.

Even with the new banknotes and the generally small percentage of the total bills that have been shown as fake, the number still increased by 11.4 percent from the first half of 2013, according to the European Central Bank. Again, the number of counterfeit bills is the highest since the second half of 2010, when the number of counterfeits reached 364,000.

The most highly counterfeited bill was the 20-euro bill, accounting for 43 percent of the false currency. In second came the 50-euro bill, at 35 percent of the false bills, and then the 100-euro bill, accounting for 12.9 percent of counterfeits.

“Yves Mersch, member of the ECB’s Executive Board, today unveiled the new Europa series [10-euro] banknote, which follows the new [5-euro] banknote, issued on 2 May 2013. The other banknotes in this series will be introduced gradually over the coming years,” said the press release.

“The Europa series [the ECB] is introducing will contribute to maintaining public confidence in the currency. The new series will offer optimal protection against counterfeiting, as the banknotes will be even more secure and durable,” per the ECB’s statement.