Counterfeit money crimes rose by a whopping 42 percent in Germany last year, according to a new federal report. Authorities have attributed the spike in crime to better quality fakes and online sellers.
Last year, 86,500 cases were registered by authorities - easily doubling data from 2011 and marking a 42 percent leap up from 2014's numbers.
A total of 112,000 faked bills with a nominal value of 5.5 million euro ($6.37 million) were removed from circulation in Germany in 2015, marking a 48 percent increase compared to the year before.
Although the 20-euro-note is the most popular bill to fake in the European Union, in Germany the "false fifty" comprised exactly half of the confiscated counterfeit euros, with the 20-euro-note coming in at 37 percent.
The BKA reported some good news as well - there were fewer faked euro-denomination coins discovered in 2015, dipping down by almost 25 percent.
Better quality in false notes
According to the report, the stark rise in counterfeit euros is due to underground internet-markets in the so-called "Dark Net." Alongside the faked notes, online buyers can purchase materials for making their own copies as well as instructions and hologram, three-dimensional images.
The counterfeiters also were able to mimic more security features, such as micro-printing and tactile features, which improved the quality of the fakes and made them harder for people to detect.
The BKA noted that most of the "high-quality fakes" were produced in eastern and southern Europe, "mainly from Italy."
Since most of the notes in 2015 were uncovered at banks and cash-in-transit firms, the BKA concluded that the majority of individual users of cash do not recognize the fakes - especially since most everyday payments do not involve a detailed examination of the cash.
Despite improved counterfeit quality, authorities maintained in the report that "the majority of counterfeit banknotes can be detected without the use of technical aids."
rs/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)