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 2016 it was 203 cases.

The total amount of counterfeit money discovered in Switzerland each year remained more or less the same between 2006 and 2016: CHF 4-5 million involving all currencies and CHF 500,000 involving Swiss francs only. This is not a large amount, considering the total amount of money in circulation – CHF 72 billion.

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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