Secret lab sniffs out fake euro bills


On the twenty third ground of the European Central Bank’s towering Frankfurt headquarters, on the opposite aspect of a safety door, anti-counterfeiting consultants are poring over among the greatest fake banknotes within the eurozone.

The room, off limits to outsiders, at first look recollects a highschool science lab – an unusually well-equipped one.

Lined up on the workbenches are 3D microscopes, ultra-sensitive scales and particular units designed to detect round a dozen of the protection options embedded in real euro banknotes – and spot the forgeries.

The evaluation finished by the handful of specialists within the room helps the ECB hold updated with the most recent counterfeiting strategies, and hopefully keep a step forward.

Twenty years after the launch of the one foreign money, the chance of a eurozone citizen holding a fake euro be aware is “very slim”, mentioned Jean-Michel Grimal, head of the ECB’s foreign money growth division.

And the probabilities have been getting slimmer by the 12 months.

According to the ECB – answerable for issuing bills whereas the central banks of the 19 eurozone nations every produce their very own cash – banknote counterfeiting fell to a traditionally low stage in 2020.

Around 460,000 fake euro bills had been taken out of circulation final 12 months, an 18% drop on 2019.

By comparability, there are at present 27 billion real euro notes out there.

The security of euro banknotes has contributed to the “strong trust” eurozone residents have within the single foreign money, Grimal mentioned, with latest surveys placing assist for the euro at round 80%.

Helping police

The lab’s greatest treasure is a big iron cupboard that requires two individuals to open it, every solely figuring out a part of the key mixture.

Inside is a trove of almost 1,000 fake banknotes, from 5 euro to 500 euro bills, which were studied over the previous twenty years.

Every eurozone nation has its personal counterfeiting detection centre, however Frankfurt holds essentially the most “interesting” examples as a result of they’re thought of the perfect imitations, mentioned Eric Languillat, one of many ECB’s counterfeiting consultants.

The evaluation finished right here additionally helps to provide “a quantitative view of the (fake) notes circulating in Europe”, he mentioned.

The findings are shared with police providers just like the EU police company Europol to assist them monitor down counterfeiting networks.

The ECB’s analysis and growth groups, tasked with consistently bettering the standard and safety of euro bills, additionally feed off the lab’s discoveries.

“If we notice the counterfeiters using certain technological methods, the R&D teams will look at what they can put in place to counteract them,” mentioned Grimal.

The ECB’s tampering-fighting efforts come at a worth, requiring a large annual price range.

But the cash spent “is a good investment compared to the cost of a counterfeiting crisis”, mentioned Grimal.

Feel, look, tilt

The Frankfurt analysts study the bills into the smallest particulars.

On one laptop display, a real ¤20 be aware is blown as much as almost 70 occasions its dimension, revealing the tiny waves contained in the “20” determine, resembling the ridges of a ploughed discipline, and fairly a problem to mimic.

Citizens don’t essentially “have the instinct to look closely at notes”, mentioned Languillat.

That’s why the ECB has for years inspired the general public to make use of the “feel, look, tilt” technique to verify that what they’re holding is the true factor – no microscope required.

Special printing ensures no different notes really feel like euro notes, holding a invoice as much as the sunshine reveals the watermark and safety thread, whereas tilting it modifications the hologram and colour-shifting photos.

“If you look carefully at a banknote, the quality of a fake is generally pretty bad, it should be easy to spot,” he mentioned. – AFP Relaxnews

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