Czech National Bank warns of new counterfeit banknotes

The counterfeit banknotes, with security threads cut out from lower denomination notes, have been found in Moravia but may spread

The Czech National Bank (ČNB) is warning people to be on the lookout for a new type of counterfeit banknote. The counterfeits have so far have been found in Moravia in the cities of Olomouc, Šumperk, Brno, and Ostrava, but the ČNB says the numbers may increase quickly and they may spread to other regions.

The notes are copies of the 2009 version of the CZK 500 banknote and the 2008 version of the CZK 1,000 banknote. These are typically the most commonly forged denominations.

Both fakes use a new way to try to imitate one of the security devices on the real ones. “These counterfeit banknotes have an imitation of the windowed thread made from glued-on fragments of a genuine windowed thread from lower denominations (the 2018 version of the CZK 100 banknote and the 2009 version of the CZK 500 banknote),” the ČNB said in a press release.

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Despite the faked security threads, the notes otherwise were not very good. “The quality of the counterfeit banknotes is not very high in other parameters. On a five-point security scale, they were given a grade 4 (poor quality); only one type was given a grade 3 (good quality),” the ČNB added.

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Three details of different sizes of the print pattern of a genuine banknote and a counterfeit. via ČNB

The printing and colors are what make the notes poor. The counterfeiters used an ink-jet printer, while the real notes are made with a combination of intaglio, offset and letterpress printing.

“The print pattern is thus composed of a structure of ink droplets rather than printing lines,” the ČNB said, adding that the colors were also off.

Aside from the attempt at the reflective window thread, the other key protective elements such as the watermark, latent image and iridescent strip are either missing or lack their characteristic features. Microtexts are illegible and UV and infra-red protective elements were not imitated.

Detail of the windowed thread on a genuine CZK 1,000 banknote (microtext “ČNB 1000 Kč”) and on a counterfeit CZK 1,000 banknote (microtext “ČNB 100 Kč”). via ČNB

The ČNB has also found genuine CZK 100 and CZK 500 banknotes with the reflective window threads removed, presumably to be used to make the higher denomination counterfeits. The damaged banknotes were put into circulation when paying for goods and services, or attempts were made to exchange them as damaged money.

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In 2018, the ČNB reported 984 counterfeit Czech banknotes, and a total of 2,111 notes when euros, dollars and other currencies are included. Imitation banknotes and coins, often used for advertising, totaled 16,148 pieces.

People who unwittingly accept counterfeit money are simply at a loss. They cannot legally pass the note on to anyone else, and banks will not reimburse someone who turns the fake money in.

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