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Two criminal rings dismantled in France and Italy

Categories : Innovation contributes to the efficiency of cash
November 20, 2018
Published in : Cash, Counterfeiting, Europe
Two criminal rings producing counterfeit euro notes were dismantled in Italy and France. Despite an estimated €4.5 million damage to the economy, ECB reports steady decline in counterfeits thanks to innovative banknote security solutions, cross-country collaboration and public awareness.
Communication Team

Two criminal networks producing counterfeit banknotes were dismantled in France and in Italy. The networks were active since 2016 and specialized in the production of 20, 50 and 100 Euro notes causing EUR 4.5 damage to the economy.

Triggered by the French National Police, the investigation uncovered a print shop in Naples where a local organized crime group produced the counterfeits. The distribution was exercised by a different criminal ring in Nancy, France which resold the fakes and put them in circulation in other EU Member States. The raids were organized by the French Judicial Police (DCPJ) and the Italian Carabinieri Corps, with support of Europol and Eurojust after the establishment of a Joint Investigation Team.

Thanks to the evolution of banknote security features and the multiplication of collaborative actions between European law enforcement agencies, the number of counterfeits has been regularly shrinking. In the first half of 2018, 301.000 fake notes were seized, 17.1% less compared to the second half of 2017. The overall trend shows a steady decline in counterfeit volumes in Europe:



H1 2015 H2 2015 H1 2016 H2 2016 H1 2017 H2 2017 H1 2018

Number of counterfeits

454,000 445,000 331,000 353,000 331,000 363,000



Breakdown by denomination:



€5 €10 €20 €50 €100 €200 €500
Percentage breakdown 1.2% 1.9% 23.8% 59.3% 10.9% 0.8% 2.1%


Source: European Central Bank


The Eurosystem offers numerous tools to support citizens and professional cash-handlers to distinguish a genuine note from a counterfeit: from the “feel, look and tilt” method to banknote handling and processing machines that identify counterfeits and withdraw them from circulation. Ultimately, cross-European initiatives coupled with incessant technological innovation and communication allow the European Union to safeguard the integrity and maintain public confidence in the single currency.