Counterfeit currency

Keywords: Counterfeit money

A child examines a 50-franc banknote
A child examines a 50-franc banknote. (Photo: Keystone/Gaetan Bally)

Compared to in other countries, counterfeit money is a very seldom occurrence in Switzerland because Swiss banknotes are forgery-proof. Banknote production is state-of-the-art and of a very high international standard. Forged banknotes can often be identified with the naked eye on the basis of various security features.

If obvious or suspected forgeries do appear, however, the police, banks, postal services or other institutions forward them to fedpol, who examines them and if necessary registers the material that has been used to manufacture them. Under the lead of the Office of the Attorney General criminal proceedings are opened, occasionally in consultation with the cantons and INTERPOL offices abroad. Counterfeiters in Switzerland are nearly always caught. In the last ten years, between 150 and 400 cases were reported to the Attorney General’s Office each year.

In 2018, fedpol received approximately 4,025 reports concerning counterfeit money. This is the lowest number since 2009, when 5,608 reports were submitted. The number of forgeries in all currencies has also continually fallen in the last few years, from 21,789 in 2014 to 12,869 in 2018. In comparison to the previous year, however, the number of Swiss franc forgeries rose, from 6,372 to 7,712, although their face value fell, from CHF 389,258 in 2017 to CHF 240,700 in 2018. The most frequently forged bank note by far was the 100-franc note, followed by the 200-franc note. However, the Swiss franc is not the currency with the highest face value of forgeries: in 2018 the face value of forged euro notes was € 339,135.

Money forgers can be of any age or from any social background. Their motives are accordingly very diverse and can range from experimental zest to a lack of money. 

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