Awash in Fake Coins | God's World News

Awash in Fake Coins

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    Experts at the Kosovo Forensic Agency in Pristina, Kosovo, inspect fake two-euro coins. (Reuters/Laura Hasani)
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    One of these two-euro coins is counterfeit and one is not. Can you tell which is which? The answer is on the next slide. (Reuters, stock)
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    An expert at the Kosovo Forensic Agency checks fake two-euro coins. (Reuters/Laura Hasani) Answer: The coin on the left in the previous slide is counterfeit.
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    This photo shows the east side of Pristina, capital of Kosovo. Kosovo and neighboring Montenegro are not part of the Euro Zone but still use the euro as their currency. (Petrit Ibrahimi/CC BY 2.0 DEED)
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Staffers at a café in Pristina, Kosovo, are familiar with counterfeit coins. They know customers use them. But workers there no longer check for fakes. Instead, many seem to embrace an “if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em” attitude.

Law enforcement agencies say fake two-euro coins are common in Kosovo. The number in circulation increased heavily this year.

In April, police arrested a man and a woman trying to bring 10,600 fake two-euro coins into Kosovo.

Endrit, a waiter in Pristina, says, “At the beginning, everyone was worried and was checking if the two-euro coins were fake.” He and his co-workers held coins up to the light or plunked them onto a table to see how they sounded.

“Now we don’t check anymore,” Endrit admits. “We may be taking fake money or may be giving out fake money. It is all the same.”

At one small store, the shopkeeper thinks six of 11 two-euro coins in the cash register are fake.

She’s probably right. At the Pristina police forensic laboratory, staff examined more than 30,000 counterfeit two-euro coins in the first half of 2023. For all of the previous year, they looked at only 4,451.

“The quality ranges from very poor to very good,” says Vjollca Mavriqi, a counterfeit money expert. “Before, the fake coins were not magnetic, and now they are,” she says. “Before, they had issues with weight, but now they match the genuine ones.”

Sokol Havolli is CEO of a Pristina parking company. He was receiving up to $160 in fake two-euro coins daily. To protect “the integrity of our employees,” he refused to accept any two-euro coins. Now he has machines donated by local banks to identify the counterfeits.

Kosovo’s Central Bank declares that banks and other financial institutions should report all counterfeit money delivered by clients.

Government expert Feriz Selimaj advises Kosovo citizens to pay with bank cards instead of cash.

That situation spooks a Pristina supermarket manager. He deposits his earnings daily at the bank. He’s told reporters he wishes to remain anonymous.

For him, it’s easier to pass the two-euro coins on to other customers than risk arrest by taking them to a bank. “I don’t deposit these coins at the bank because I know they will call the police, and I may end up being arrested,” he says. “I give them back to clients next morning and then take more during the day.”

The manager points out that Kosovo has long wanted its own currency. He says, “Well, it looks we have now—fake two-euro coins.”

Why? Corruption breeds corruption. In Kosovo, it’s hard to break the cycle of dishonest acts—just as standing up for what’s right can be difficult when it seems everyone is doing wrong.

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