7 January 2010

According to the State Police of Latvia, 3 895 units of counterfeit money, 730 banknotes among them, were detected in Latvia in 2009. The monetary value of all counterfeits equals 15 120 lats, slightly less than in the previous year. The trend of detecting several hundreds of counterfeit banknotes and thousands of forged coins remains broadly unchanged even in the face of economic downturn. However, counterfeit currency does not present any threat to the Latvian economy. The monetary value of all detected counterfeits taken together in 2009 constitutes 0.002% of the total value of lats in circulation. 

The considerably narrow scope of counterfeiting is determined by several factors, such as sophisticated security features, small area of lats circulation, and effective activities of the Police in counterfeit detecting. Advanced banknotes sorting technology used by the Bank of Latvia branches plays an important part in timely spotting and withdrawal from circulation of forged money, as around one seventh of all counterfeits are detected at the Bank of Latvia, the last link in the money circulation chain before its re-entering the circulation cycle.

The counterfeit lats banknotes excel in low quality and although in 2009 they were detected in larger numbers than before for some denominations, counterfeits are easily distinguishable from the genuine currency as colour printers and copiers are used and no attempts to imitate security features are usually made. Nevertheless, criminal proceedings show that in a favourable environment attempts to use forged notes for settlement are often made, therefore the general public should know their currency and handle it prudently. Despite the insignificant number of counterfeits and the fact that only 16% of the population (May 2009 data) acknowledge having ever faced forged lats notes, each such situation is displeasing because the holder of forged notes is going to lose this money, and, in fact, the counterfeiter and distributor of counterfeits steals it from the holder.

Upon the release into circulation of a new issue of bank notes, the Bank of Latvia constantly improves the security features of currency. All bank notes produced after 1992 have new security features added to the existing ones. Detailed information on the security features of lats banknotes of all denominations and issuances is provided under Latvian Money/Security Features of the Lats Banknotes on the Bank of Latvia website The watermark, metallic thread and latent image are features to be known and checked first by looking at them. Surveys suggest that it is these security elements that are tested most often (by 93%, 35%, and 10% of the banknote-checking population).

The number of spotted counterfeit banknotes and coins

2009 2008 Total (1994-2009)
LVL 500 0 0 30
LVL 100 2 34 489
LVL 50 19 10 57
LVL 20 424 143 1 039
LVL 10 98 28 475
LVL 5 187 84 1 382
LVL 2 437 1 294 42 907
LVL 1 2 684 5 607 24 011
LVL 0.5 30 27 5 451
LVL 0.2 7 12 843
LVL 0.05 7 0 34
Total 3 895 7 239 76 718

In order to minimise the possibility of using banknote and coin reproductions created for advertising, marketing or publicity purposes as the replacement of genuine money, the issuers of the former shall comply with the Bank of Latvia Regulation For Reproducing the Lats Banknotes and Coins, in which the criteria to be met in making a banknote or coin reproduction, e.g. a campaign voucher, for them not to be taken for genuine currency are specified clearly enough.