17th Mar 2018

Thousands of fake euro notes pulled from circulation

  • There are around 14.6 billion euro notes in circulation. Around 251,000 fake notes were pulled from circulation in the first half of 2012 (Photo:

EU member state authorities collectively removed over 250,000 fake euro notes in the first six months of 2012, said the European Central Bank (ECB) in a statement published on Monday (16 July).

The figure is 15 percent lower when compared to the same period last year. Almost all the notes were recovered in Eurozone countries. The vast majority were either €20 or €50 bills.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“The two most counterfeited denominations together accounted for 77.0% of the total during the first half of 2012,” said the ECB.

Despite the overall drop in counterfeit bills, the ECB found a slight increase in the number of fake €50 bills in circulation. In their January report for the second half of 2011, the ECB had found the opposite trend with the €20 bills on the rise and €50 bills on the decrease.

“This shows that actually it has far more to do with the fact that criminals adapt very quickly and very well to how they are being checked and targeted, and then so do law enforcement agencies. So the trends change very quickly,” a spokesperson for the European Parliament’s committee on organised crime said in an email.

The Campania region of southern Italy accounts for more than half of the 550,000 to 800,000 fake euro notes pulled from circulation annually by European central banks, says the committee.

In June, the EU police body Europol along with a Bulgarian regional crime fighting unit, dismantled an operation that was attempting to sell €30,000 of counterfeited €100 bills near a hotel in Bulgaria’s second largest city of Plovdiv.

Police also seized €60,000 of fake notes as well as vehicles, computers, and SIM cards near the hotel.

In another operation on 26 June, police raided an illegal mint shop concealed in the basement of a rural farmhouse near Thessaloniki, Greece.

The two suspects, one Greek and another Bulgarian, were mass-producing the two euro domination coin with the Belgian national design stamped on the obverse. Enough raw material at the site was discovered to press the equivalent of €100,000 in coins.

Three other members of the organised crime group were also arrested in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

A spokesperson for Belgium’s Federal Police told EUobserver that they had been informed of the operation but “have yet to find any of the coins in circulation in Belgium”.

Meanwhile, counterfeited euro notes are not restricted to Europe.

Fake €500 bills are thought to be a favourite among international drug smugglers. In April, the authorities in Bogotá, Colombia, dismantled a counterfeit press and seized half a million counterfeit euro notes.

The European Commission, for its part, supports a number of national projects through its Pericles 2020 programme.

The programme aims to protect the euro banknotes and coins against counterfeiting and assists national and European authorities to increase co-operation.

EU told to create coalition against fake news

After almost two months of talks, a panel of experts set up by the EU commission have issued a series of recommendations on how to fight fake news or what they prefer to term 'disinformation'.

Poland defends judicial reforms, warns against EU pressure

Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki presented the Commission with 94-pages of arguments backing Warsaw's controversial judicial reforms - while his EU minister warns that constant conflict with Brussels could stoke anti-European sentiment.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere