Counterfeit currency

We have been providing tools and guidance on fighting currency counterfeiting for nearly a century.

Our unique and historic role

One of the original mandates behind the creation of INTERPOL was the suppression of international currency counterfeiting; a role that was enshrined in the Geneva Convention of 1929. This reflects the importance of combatting counterfeit currency which reduces the value of genuine currency, leads to inflation and potentially destabilises our economic system.

Today, criminals have relatively easy access to the technology, equipment and know-how required for counterfeiting. It is a lucrative business which is often used to finance illegal activities such as trafficking in human beings and drugs, and even terrorism.

While the techniques of counterfeiting have become more sophisticated, so too have the tools and services that we provide to our member countries. These include technical databases, forensic support, training and operational assistance.

Online tools and services

The sharing of data among countries and the financial sector is essential in order to combat the counterfeiting and distribution of currency. We facilitate the exchange of information on operational matters, such as the seizure of counterfeit notes and the closure of illegal print shops.

We also provide training to equip the law enforcement community and other relevant parties – such as financial institutions – with the knowledge, skills and best practices to successfully detect and investigate currency counterfeiting.

We make available a number of web-based tools to authorized users via our secure communication network, I-24/7. These include:

  • Counterfeit alerts – information about newly discovered counterfeit banknotes in international contexts (except USD and EUR), along with a detailed forensic analysis;
  • Counterfeit currency statistics – annual statistical reports detailing quantities and types of counterfeit banknotes reported by our member countries;
  • Early warning messages – detailed alerts published by the European Central Bank and Europol about counterfeit Euro banknotes;
  • Documentchecker Banknotes, from Keesing Technology – an online reference database that enables inspection and authentication of more than 4,800 different banknotes, including a library of over 70,000 images and details of security features.

Forensic laboratory

We run a Counterfeit Currency and Security Documents laboratory, providing forensic support to investigators. Services include:

  • Sourcing, analysing and storing specimens of newly issued banknotes;
  • Analysing, classifying and storing counterfeit banknotes;
  • Allocating international ‘indicative’ numbers to newly discovered counterfeit banknotes (except for USD and EUR), to connect notes used in different places that were produced together.
  • Producing technical analytical reports.

Reaching out to the top financial institutions

Currency counterfeiting is a problem that cannot be dealt with by law enforcement alone. At INTERPOL, we work closely with other stakeholders including monetary issuing authorities, central banks and the security printing industry including:

  • Center for Latin American Monetary Studies,
  • European Central Bank,
  • European Commission Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs,
  • ENFSI European Document Experts Working Group,
  • Europol,
  • Law Enforcement Advisory Group of the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group,
  • United States Secret Service.