Technology winning battle against banknote forgers

The Swiss National Bank presented its new CHF100 banknotes in September. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Swiss banknotes are far more resistant to counterfeiters than in previous years, dramatically reducing the number of fake copies, say federal police. By contrast, far more counterfeit coins were seized last year, probably as a result of better detection methods.

This content was published on October 18, 2019 - 11:58

In 2018, a record low of 1,200 fake banknotes were discovered by police. Their combined face value amounted to just CHF208,140, far below the CHF65 million ($66 million) haul of 2001, the Federal Office of PoliceExternal link (Fedpol) told the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA on Friday.

The reason for the drop in forged notes is advances in technology that make them harder to reproduce – typically by inkjet printers, which are no longer up to the job of producing convincing reproductions.

In 2000, police estimated a total 17,654 fake copies of the largest Swiss banknote (CHF1,000) still in circulation. But fewer copies are now being detected as it becomes harder to make them. Last year, only 82 fake CHF1,000 notes were uncovered - a drop of 99.5% from 2000.

But the number of detected fake coins spiked, probably because of better detection methods. Advanced equipment spotted 6,512 fake copies of the CHF5 coin in 2018, compared with just six examples in 2007.

Local police, banks, post offices or other institutions pass counterfeits on to Fedpol when they are discovered. Federal prosecutors can then open criminal proceedings.

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