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Counterfeiting of euro banknotes surges

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Counterfeiting of euro banknotes surges
Photo: DPA
14:22 CET+01:00
The number of fake euro banknotes seized in the second half of 2009 was eight percent higher than in the first six months, the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank said on Monday, continuing a trend that began in late 2007.

"In the second half of 2009 a total of 447,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation," the ECB said in a statement.

The rise was slower than in the first six months of 2009 however, when the central bank reported a 17 percent jump in the number of seized counterfeit notes.

"The proportion of counterfeits is still very low," the statement added, when compared with roughly 12.8 billion genuine banknotes in circulation.

Seizures have nonetheless increased steadily since the first half of 2007, when 265,000 counterfeit notes were found.

As is often the case, fake notes of mid-level value were the most often seized, with €20 bills representing 47 percent of the total.

Almost all of those found, 97 percent, comprised of €20, €50, and €100 banknotes, and more than 98 percent of all counterfeit notes were found within the 16-member eurozone.

Spanish police said on August 21 that they had recovered almost €9 million in fake €500 bills, a European Union record for such notes.

"The proportion of high denomination counterfeits (€200 and €500) is very low," the ECB noted, accounting for just 1.5 percent of all seizures in the latest six-month period.

Other crackdowns on counterfeiters included the arrest of two people by Italian police in late July as officials raided a printing site in the southern Campania region and seized €7 million in fake €50 notes.

Four others were apprehended in Bulgaria, police said on October 1, and €111,750 in fake €50 bills were recovered.

In mid-October, Polish police arrested four Cameroonians who were French residents after finding fake €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes and material used to counterfeit money in the southern city of Czestochowa.

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