What is fake money

Counterfeit money is becoming more professional - but “DIY enthusiasts” are also active

But there is no such thing as a perfect fake

At first glance, the 200-euro note could pass as real: the yellow color and the high-quality paper look deceptively similar to the original. But the trick lies in the detail: the fraudsters cut out a silver foil with the words “Video Verleih” as a hologram and stuck it on the bill. The forgers also used stationery with an angel as a
Watermark that shimmers through in the backlight. A flower is not always that easy to recognize - because the counterfeits are becoming more and more professional. At the Deutsche Bundesbank, 40 employees at the National Analysis Center in Mainz are on the trail of new counterfeiting techniques and trends.

Copiers and scanners make it easy for criminals to produce colored notes these days. Image processing program and printer with excellent resolution allow high quality forgeries. But it gets difficult when it comes to manual work: silver stripes and holograms have to be ironed on or glued on. For the color of the number, which changes depending on the viewing angle, you need a special color. «There is no such thing as perfect
Forgery, ”says the head of the analysis center, Rainer Elm. "Every forger makes a mistake that can also be recognized by laypeople."

According to the Bundesbank, no criminal has yet completely managed the combination of silver ribbon, the UV color fluff incorporated in the paper, hologram and color-changing numbers. The «counterfeit money
Detectives »in Mainz analyze flowers, work with the police and train business people and cashiers. "Many retailers are inexperienced in handling banknotes," says specialist Roland Müller. "They just trust that they can only get their hands on real grades."

Some consumers fall for the simplest of flowers. A fake 5-euro note found a buyer, the back of which consisted only of white paper. A 300-euro fantasy note with naked women was accepted in a bakery. Even notes that they had painted themselves with colored pencils came into circulation. A criminal who printed the word euro on a pink 100 guilder note from Suriname was particularly clever - colorful flowers and a hummingbird give the bill an exotic look. The officials also fell into their hands with well-made 500-euro bills with the - also misspelled - inscription “Pizeria
Roma »wear. Bills with an alleged authenticity stamp of the European Central Bank: "ECB - Confidential Security" originate from a money exchange business with black money.

After the introduction of the euro in 2002, the number of forgeries skyrocketed, but for two years now, investigators have been pulling fewer and fewer counterfeit money out of circulation. "In the past year, important counterfeiting workshops were dug up in Italy," says a spokesman for the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden, explaining this success. Because of the pressure, the criminals have now relocated to Bulgaria, Lithuania and even Colombia.

Anyone who produces and distributes counterfeit money is punished in Germany with imprisonment of between one and 15 years. However, the likelihood that a citizen will discover a false note in their wallet is low. "With around five forgeries per 10,000 inhabitants per year, Germany is still well below the euro area average," says Bundesbank board member Hans Reckers. If you find a ticket, you should inform the police because it is a criminal offense to spread it. Then the consumer does not receive any money, but only a worthless receipt - otherwise criminals could turn flowers into cash at the central bank.

The euro is counterfeited twice as often as the good old D-Mark. "The euro is now a world currency and therefore particularly attractive for perpetrators," says the BKA spokesman. In order to expand its technological lead, the European Central Bank is working on a new series of banknotes that will be launched in 2010.

Sometimes, however, there is no need to be suspicious: the Bundesbank is repeatedly involved in suspicious bills whose security thread and hologram have come off and which shine unusually bright under UV light. The solution to the riddle: These bills got into the washing machine - the whiteners bleach the cotton fabric, which can shrink or wear out like clothes. No silver thread survives a boil wash.