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Old Hryvnias Are Main Targets of Counterfeiters

Old Hryvnias Are Main Targets of Counterfeiters

Level of hryvnia banknotes counterfeiting remained traditionally low in 2020.

Last year, monitoring of hryvnia banknotes withdrawal from circulation proved that approximately 5.5 banknotes were counterfeited per 1 million pieces of authentic banknotes (versus 3 banknotes in 2019).

For comparison, the EU member states had nearly 17 counterfeit banknotes per million of authentic banknotes in 2020, according to the ECB.

On counterfeiting domestic currency

Relative rise of the hryvnia counterfeit rates in 2020 is associated with an increase in cash in circulation due to the spread of the coronavirus infection.

The most counterfeited banknotes in 2020 were the old design banknotes of 500 hryvnias of 2006 design and 200 hryvnias of 2007 design. Said banknotes made 60% and 29%, respectively, of the total number of withdrawn counterfeit banknotes.

This can be attributed to the fact that banknotes of new hryvnia designs (banknotes of UAH 20, UAH 50, UAH 100, UAH 200, and UAH 1000 denominations issued by the NBU into circulation in 2015 – 2020) have enhanced security features. In particular, for protecting high-denomination banknotes that are frequently targeted by offenders innovative optically variable elements were applied that can be easily verified by the public and are hard to counterfeit.

In 2020, counterfeit hryvnia banknotes of new design were of low quality and made up only 4% of the total counterfeits withdrawn from circulation in the banking system of Ukraine. Accordingly, the number of counterfeit hryvnias of new design per 1 million authentic banknotes was only 0.2 banknotes in 2020.

Also, the previous year showed a decrease in banknote counterfeits of the following denominations:

  • 100 hryvnias by 40%
  • 50 hryvnias by 32%
  • 20 hryvnias by 4.5%
  • 5 and 10 hryvnias by 36%.

The counterfeit hryvnia banknotes withdrawn from circulation were mainly printed on printers in an effort to deceive distracted people and inattentive retail cashiers.  Careful handling of money and awareness of the banknote security features prevent the receipt of counterfeits.

Most detected counterfeit banknotes were distributed through fast food restaurants, retailers, gas stations, etc. The NBU has set uniform criteria for sorting cash in banks using automated cash processing systems. This ensured withdrawal of counterfeited banknotes when processing collected cash.

In order to combat the spread of counterfeit banknotes, last year, the NBU actively cooperated with the National Police of Ukraine, the State Scientific Research Forensic Centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, and the Security Service of Ukraine.   In December 2020, due to fruitful cooperation with the Security Service of Ukraine an organized crime group was exposed that distributed high-quality counterfeit hryvnia and foreign currency banknotes. This prevented the state from incurring losses of about UAH 20 million.

On counterfeit foreign currency

In 2020, the following counterfeit foreign currency banknotes were withdrawn from circulation:

  • U.S. dollars (86% of all counterfeit foreign currency banknotes withdrawn from circulation)
  • euros (12%)
  • Russian rubles and pounds sterling (2%).

Foreign banknotes that were most often counterfeited are the following:

  • USD 100 (95% of the total number of withdrawn counterfeit US dollar banknotes)
  • EUR 50 and EUR 500 (30% and 29%, respectively, of the total number of withdrawn counterfeit euro banknotes)
  • RUR 5,000 and RUR 1,000 (74% and 26% of the total number of withdrawn counterfeit Russian ruble banknotes).

Please, be reminded that when in doubt about authenticity and fitness for commerce of hryvnias or foreign currency banknotes, citizens should submit questionable hryvnia banknotes to banks for further examination by the NBU.

The NBU conducts such examinations free of charge. Based on the findings, customers are reimbursed the respective amount in the domestic currency if the cash is deemed authentic and fit for commerce. The foreign banknotes that were recognized authentic are returned to the customer.

Counterfeit banknotes are confiscated without reimbursement. The NBU reports to the National Police of Ukraine on the withdrawal of counterfeits, which are then handed over to the authorized police officers for further investigation.

For reference:

Security features on hryvnia banknotes guarantee that counterfeits can be identified on closer visual and tactile inspections without any special detectors.

A banknote’s authenticity can be verified as follows:

  • Banknote paper can be felt, as well as some relief images, on the obverse owing to a special type of printing.
  • Hold a banknote up to the light to check for:
    • watermarks (combined watermark for the portrait reflecting the portrait printed on the obverse and highlight watermark for the numeric denomination and hryvnia currency symbol)
    • see-through element that is a fragmented image of the denomination numerals embedded on the obverse and reverse creating a full image free from gaps and shifts when the banknote is held up to the light
    • a stripe fully embedded into the paper showing a direct and inverse images of the denomination, “ГРН” inscription, and Ukraine’s small coat of arms, which can be seen under a magnifying glass when held up to the light
  • Tilt a banknote at different angles to check for:
    • an image printed in optically variable ink that changes color when looking at a banknote from different angles (middle and high denomination banknotes designed in 2003 – 2007 and 20 and 50 hryvnias designed in 2018 and 2019 respectively) and produce a dynamic light effect (a SPARK feature on 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 hryvnia banknotes designed in 2015 – 2019)
    • window polymer thread (partially embedded into the paper) of a respective color (e.g. on 200 hryvnia banknotes designed in 2019 – dark blue, 500 hryvnia banknotes designed in 2015 – dark grey) presenting the numeric denomination and hryvnia currency symbol (on banknote denominations ranging from 100 to 500 hryvnias), and Ukraine's small coat of arms (on 1000 hryvnias – purple) and has a pronounced dynamic light effect (when the banknote is tilted, the background image moves in the opposite direction)
    • latent image of the numerical denomination visible at a sharp angle to the light at eye level (the denomination numerals become visible and are dark against light background if looked at from the long side, or light against dark background if looked at from the short side).

Please, be informed that the detailed description of all hryvnia banknotes in circulation and their security features can be found on the NBU’s official website.



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