Banks set sights on fake euro problem

The Bank of Greece and the Hellenic Banks’ Association are preparing a public awareness campaign regarding the perils of counterfeit euro notes. They have also called on banks to ensure that ATMs are loaded only with banknotes that they have received from the central bank. But they note that despite the efforts of counterfeiters, whose handiwork is increasingly evident, the euro remains the most secure currency. According to statistics from the Bank of Greece, at the end of the first half of 2003, the number of counterfeit euro notes came to 230,534 out of a total of 8 billion banknotes in circulation. The number of fakes that have been encountered do not exceed 28 bills for every million in circulation. In Greece, the number of fakes discovered is 21 per million in circulation, which is well below the eurozone average of 39 fakes per million bills. This shows that Greece is not among the countries that are worst hit by counterfeiters. But things remain dangerous here, because two of Greece’s neighbors – Bulgaria and Turkey – are home to counterfeit rackets. This means that Greece runs the risk of being the entry point for fake banknotes. The recent discovery of fake 200-euro notes in Greece caused the authorities to focus on high denominations. Whereas these had constituted only 2.4 percent of fake notes before, their counterfeiting may be on the increase. At the same time, 20-euro notes appear to be favored more by counterfeiters, with a drop in 50-euro denominations.