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Police seize fake 50-euro notes from circulation

Rebecca StaudenmaierMay 3, 2016

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.

Währung Euro Falschgeld
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. May

Fake euro notes and counterfeit money crimes both rose drastically in 2015, according to a report released on Monday by Germany's Federal Criminal Police Agency (BKA).

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.

Customs: Tracking down counterfeit goods

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)