Baristas in cafes across Kosovo have stopped checking €2 coins for authenticity due to a significant increase in the circulation of fake coins, which are now of such high quality that they are virtually indistinguishable from genuine currency.
According to a waiter at a cafe in Pristina, initially, everyone was concerned about the authenticity of the coins and would check them by holding them up to the light or dropping them on a surface to listen to the sound they made. However, due to the prevalence of high-quality counterfeit coins, baristas have abandoned these checks. The waiter stated, “Now we don’t check anymore…we may be taking fake money or may be giving out fake money. It is all the same.”
Law enforcement agencies have reported a dramatic increase in the quantity of counterfeit €2 coins in circulation in Kosovo this year. It is worth noting that Kosovo, as well as neighboring Montenegro, use the euro as their currency, despite not being part of the Eurozone.
An unnamed shopkeeper revealed that out of the 11 €2 coins in her cash register, six were fake. She expressed her frustration, stating that there were so many fake coins in circulation that she had no choice but to accept them.
Experts at the police forensic laboratory in Pristina examined over 30,000 counterfeit €2 coins during the first half of this year, compared to only 4,451 in the same period last year. Vjollca Mavriqi, an expert on counterfeit money at the lab, explained that the counterfeit coins have become more sophisticated. Previously, they lacked magnetic properties and had weight discrepancies compared to genuine coins. However, the current counterfeits possess magnetic properties and match the weight of genuine coins, making them even more challenging to detect.
In 2020, local police sent 804 cases related to money forgery to prosecutors in Kosovo. Surprisingly, this number has already been surpassed in 2021, with 486 cases issued so far. The severity of the issue was highlighted in April when a man and a woman were arrested for attempting to smuggle 10,600 fake €2 coins into Kosovo from North Macedonia.
The rise in counterfeit coins poses significant challenges for businesses and consumers who risk accepting or using fake money unknowingly. In light of this growing problem, it becomes crucial for authorities to step up their efforts in addressing this issue and implementing stricter measures to detect and penalize counterfeiters.
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