Explosion in euro coin counterfeiting
23 January 2004
BRUSSELS – National Central Banks in the European Union detected and removed over 26,000 counterfeit euro coins and 551,000 euro banknotes from circulation in 2003, the second year after the euro was introduced in 12 European Union nations.
The number of fake euros in use was much larger than the 2,339 counterfeit coins detected in 2002, the European Commission said.
But it insisted that the total number of counterfeit euro coins found in circulation last year was still by far lower than the overall number of counterfeit coins of legacy currencies before the introduction of the euro.
The 50-cent, one euro and two euro coins were most widely copied, the Commission said.
Officials said national authorities had found and dismantled three illegal coin workshops in 2003, two in Italy and one in Portugal and about 5800 counterfeit one-euro coins were seized by the Greek police.
“The quality of counterfeit coins has globally improved, especially for the two-euro … but their small number, compared to the 49 billion circulating (genuine) euro coins, is not a cause of concern for the public,” the Commission said.
Moreover, these counterfeit coins were generally rejected by vending and other coin-operated machines.
A total of 551,287 counterfeit euro banknotes were removed from circulation during 2003. This is also believed to lower than the number of counterfeit banknotes of legacy currencies before the introduction of the euro currency.
In Germany alone more than 50,000 fake notes were intercepted in 2003, with a face value of over 3.5 million dollars.
That was up sharply from 2002 when just 14,000 fake euros were intercepted and removed from circulation.
“In the introductory phase of the euro only a relatively small amount of counterfeited money was produced because the counterfeiters lack the expertise and experience in faking the notes,” a spokesman for Germany’s Bundesbank said in Frankfurt.
In the meantime, however, 15 fake notes show up for every million banknotes issued, he added.
By comparison, the final year that the German mark was in circulation only 30,000 fake mark notes were intercepted.
Subject: German news