The COVID pandemic may have curtailed or shut down business operations around the globe, but criminals managed to do their dirty work despite the challenges—including those who produce and distribute counterfeit banknotes.

Looking at the EURO-banknote, for example, we reported in the summer of 2020 that authorities had dismantled an organised crime network involved in euro counterfeiting—possibly the largest euro counterfeit bust in history. The overall picture for that year, however, was much brighter, with the rate of fake Euro banknotes at an all-time low according to the European Central Bank.

So how did Euro counterfeiters fare as the pandemic dragged on into 2021 and 2022? In this article, we’ll answer that question “by the numbers.”

Counterfeit Euros found in the year 2022

Banknote Industry News (BIN) recently researched and reported the following statistics concerning counterfeit EURO-banknotes for the year 2022:

  • 376,000 counterfeit EURO-banknotes were withdrawn from circulation; this is an increase of 8% compared to the year 2021. Nevertheless, it is the second-lowest level ever in proportion to total banknotes in circulation.
  • 13 counterfeits were detected per million genuine banknotes in circulation in 2022.
  • 63.6% of the counterfeits were €20 (23.6%) and €50 (40%) banknotes. There are seven denominations within the €-series (€ 5 – 10 – 20 – 50 – 100 – 200 – 500).
  • There are more than 29bn banknotes in circulation (volume).

BIN also reported on counterfeit banknotes that were found and withdrawn from circulation in several other European countries in 2022. Here are those numbers:


  • 38,200 counterfeit Euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation.
  • This is an increase of 47% compared to 2021.
  • The increase is mainly driven to counterfeited €100 / €200 banknotes (51.6%).


  • Increase of 5.2% of counterfeited banknotes, totaling 44,100 counterfeit EURO-banknotes with a nominal value of 2.7 million Euros. 
  • 20 € and 50 € were the most counterfeited banknotes, but there was also an increase of counterfeited 100 € / 200 € banknotes. 


  • 3,971 counterfeits were withdrawn, a decrease of almost 11% compared to 2021. 
  • For perspective, the number of banknotes in circulation grew by 7.7% in 2022 compared to 2021. 


  • 469 counterfeit euro banknotes were detected in 2022, which is a decrease of 10.3% compared to the year 2021.

Most fake Euro notes are poor quality forgeries

BIN also reports that most of the counterfeit euro banknotes confiscated in these cases were simple printed forgeries with no security features, or very poor imitations of security features. This is good news, as the following inspection tips will usually flag a fake note quickly and easily, without the use of special equipment.

  • Feel the patterned print.
  • Look for watermarks.
  • Tilt notes to see how they change visually.

A genuine banknote will contain all three of the elements listed in this method.


Banknote Industry News

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The Keesing Platform team brings you the latest in various fields, including security documents, security printing, banknotes, identity management, biometrics, blockchain, crypto technology and online onboarding.

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