nr 121 - Counterfeit or genuine: can you tell the difference?

DNB Working Papers
Publicatiedatum 21 december 2006

In 2005, some 25,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were identified in the Netherlands , representing a fictitious amount of two million euro. In collaboration with the TNO research institute, DNB has investigated how accurately cash handlers and consumers with no cash handler experience can distinguish counterfeit euro notes from genuine ones. Also examined was the question whether the use of DNB’s educational CD-ROM entitled ‘Genuine or Counterfeit?’ led to improved performance and whether such aids as UV lights or IR cameras helped to identify notes correctly. The results show that the public is quite capable of recognising a counterfeit note: without practice, members of the general public correctly identified 88% of counterfeit notes they were given to examine, while after training they scored as high as 96%. Remarkable scores were recorded by cash handlers operating without aids: even without training they showed themselves expert at sifting the wheat from the chaff (98% correctly identified counterfeit notes). Recognising genuine euro notes proved slightly more challenging, but here technical aids provided useful services. Practice with the help of the CD-ROM turned out to benefit untrained consumers in particular. They soon managed to bring their performance up to the level of experienced cash handlers.  

JEL code: C91, C25, E50, Key words: banknotes, counterfeits, discrete choice model, experiment, training