National Bank says number of fake banknotes seized on rise

Photo: Barbora Kmentová

The number of fake banknotes found in circulation in the Czech Republic by counterfeiters is on a rise, Czech Radio reported on Tuesday - citing statistics released by the Czech National Bank. Most often copied are the 500 and 1,000 crown bills.

Photo: Barbora Kmentová
In the past it was not unusual for shopkeepers and other proprietors to hold up 1,000 crown notes to the light, presumably to check for anything suspicious and although the sight is a good deal less common now, every year the country’s National Bank still registers plenty of cases of counterfeit money found in circulation.

The number of fake bills and coins uncovered has continued to go up: in the first half of 2016, Czech Radio reported, 1,480 fake bills or coins were uncovered – dozens more than during the same period last year. In the Czech Republic, the largest numbers of fake bills, not surprisingly, are Czech crowns, more often 500 and 1,000 crown notes.

In the first half of this year, the bank seized some 800 fake Czech bills and coins. Second, were fake samples of the European currency, some 600 notes. The number of American dollars counterfeited is also reportedly up. Nevertheless, the situation is a far cry from 2003, when the central bank seized some 11,000 fake notes.

According to experts, methods of creating false bills in the Czech Republic are not particularly refined and do not hold up all that well to scrutiny – hence the lifting up to the light by careful sellers: many of the bills are missing protective elements which can be spotted by eye or through careful handling. Most often, the bank found, bills are faked through the use of ink printers. Foreign currency caught by the bank, however, is generally far better copied; the quality there is higher and the counterfeiting more difficult to detect. Bills most often faked? The 20 and 50 euro banknotes.

Several years back, to help, the Czech National Bank launched an app which could recognise counterfeit bills as a way of protecting the Czech currency and users. Users can also check their bills manually for other useful ‘tells’: the presence of a protective strip, the texture of the bill, which is not overly smooth and the presence of watermarks. Anyone – proprietor or consumer – can reject a suspicious bill; but once accepted, Czech Radio notes, the bill must not knowingly be used as fake, or risk being found culpable.