The new euro bank note has proved bad news for forgers: less than a tenth of the previous number of counterfeit notes in the eurozone has been detected in the first six months in which the new currency has circulated.
According to the European Central Bank (ECB) just one counterfeit per day was recorded for every 59 million genuine banknotes in circulation.
In the first six months of 2002 officials in the 12 countries using the euro found 21,965 forgeries compared with more than 300,000 in the equivalent period of the previous year.
Police sources say that the introduction of the notes on 1 January with complex security features has left forgers unprepared. In addition the public has been more attentive because of the novelty of handling the new notes.
There have been exceptions, most notably when French police in Vaucluse last month cracked a network of counterfeiters trying to circulate at least 5,000 fake €50 notes. Forgeries have also been discovered in Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland and Finland.
Counterfeit coins are even more rare, with only 68 recorded so far, although people tend to throw fake coins away rather than report them because of their low value, the ECB says.
"The quality of counterfeit euro banknotes has generally been low."
There were 7.2 billion genuine euro notes in circulation at the end of June.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies