Video: Europa Press

Watch as police bust biggest-ever counterfeit 2-euro coin operation in Spain: this is how to tell if yours are genuine

According to initial estimates - around 100,000 of the "high quality" fake coins were introduced onto the Spanish market and nearly 400,000 into the rest of Europe

Almudena Nogués


Sunday, 28 April 2024, 08:57


A joint operation carried out by Spain's National Police, Mossos d'Esquadra (regional police force in Catalonia) and Europol has led to the breakup of the largest counterfeit two-euro coin manufacturing operation in Spain and the biggest in Europe in the last decade.

The complex scheme, meticulously orchestrated from the town of Villacañas in Toledo and Barcelona, had been active for at least six years. Behind it, people of Chinese origin (10 have been arrested so far) who have introduced - according to initial estimates - 100,000 counterfeit coins into the Spanish market and nearly 400,000 into the rest of Europe. All of them have a face value of two euros and are "of high quality," which complicates their detection, police warn.

Their destination? According to the official statement, to launder them in uncalibrated slot machines in gambling halls, swapping the counterfeit coins for legal ones. In Barcelona, the detainees also sold the two-euro coins to other Asians at 80 cents each.

They then gave them to tourists who came into their bars and shops to buy them. Vending machines were also used to obtain real money. It was as simple as inserting two counterfeit euros and having the machine give you your change back.

According to data from the Banco de España, 33,068 counterfeit coins were detected in 2023, of which 30,664 were two-euro coins. Given the intense activity carried out by this illegal operation, the question many people will be asking is: could I have a counterfeit coin in my wallet? How can I tell?

For the avoidance of doubt, the Banco de España has a method for identifying counterfeits, known as the five-step rule.

First of all, you have to make sure that it is not a coin belonging to a non-Euro country. "On all euro coins, one side, the common side, shows the number with the value of the coin and the word euro or the word euro cent and the map of Europe," according to the Banco España.

The other side shows the year of issue in the centre and an image identifying the issuing country surrounded by the 12 stars of the European flag on the outer part of the coin.

Secondly, look at the alignment by holding the coin between your fingers and turning it over. The images on both sides must be correctly aligned vertically. In other words, if the number is facing upwards, the image on the reverse side must also be facing upwards.

Thirdly, concordance. From 2007 onwards, the design of the common face map changed slightly to include the whole European continent and not only the EU countries in the initial design.

Fourthly, magnetism. The organisation reminds us that one and two euro coins are slightly magnetic, but only in the centre. For this test, any small magnet will do. Gradually move the magnet towards the centre of the coin and with a slight shake it should come off easily.

Fifthly and lastly, it should be noted that the map of Europe on the one and two euro coins should have a slightly rough surface. The minting of the coins ensures that the relief will never be erased. However worn it becomes it will never be smooth.

The Banco de España stresses that credit institutions and any other financial body involved in the processing and delivery of banknotes and coins to the public are obliged to withdraw from circulation all banknotes and coins known to them to be counterfeit. They must also hand them over to the competent national authorities.

Similarly, any member of the public who receives a banknote or coin they suspect might be counterfeit must hand it over to the Banco de España, a credit institution or the police authorities.

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