NEWS

Greek police on alert for fake euros

The Greek Police have set up a center to analyze euro notes and coins, staffed by six officers trained at the European Central Bank and the USA to use new technology to detect counterfeit currency. This is part of the police force’s year-long preparations for the introduction of the European Union’s new common currency on January 1. Police sources told Kathimerini that organized crime syndicates might try to exploit the public’s lack of experience with the new currency by circulating euros forged in non-EU countries. Law enforcement officers around Europe are on the alert following reports that counterfeiters from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the NATO-occupied Serb province of Kosovo and other eastern European countries outside the EU were planning to flood the market with fake euros. According to yesterday’s Financial Times, the counterfeiters were concentrating their efforts on copying 100-euro notes and to a lesser extent, 200-euro notes. The newspaper quoted Europol deputy director Willie Bruggeman as saying the quality of the counterfeits was good but that he was confident arrests could be made in the new year. The best copies could replicate embossed characters and might also reproduce watermarks successfully, said the newspaper. But police sources said metal strips and several secret security features in the notes would be nearly impossible to forge. Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday warned people to exercise caution in using the new currency to avoid falling prey to profiteers. Transport Minister Christos Verelis said an investigation was being conducted to see whether anyone was to blame for allowing the train to head into the blizzard.