There has been a dramatic increase in the number of counterfeit foreign bank notes floating around Russia following the devaluation of the ruble which raised the value of the US dollar and the Euro according to the Russian Central Bank. In a statement the Bank said that for the first half of 2015 there had been a 39.9 percent rise in the number of fake notes discovered within the banking system.
A Bank spokesman said many more fake dollar and euro notes would be circulating within the retail system, undetected.
Just recently 1,500 foreign bank notes were taken out of circulation after being found floating within bank branches. The Russian news agency Interfax said 1,400 of the notes were US dollars and only 90 were euros, as they were harder to fake.
Meanwhile because of the falling value of the ruble, there has been an apparent decrease in the rate of fake domestic notes being produced. The number of fake ruble bills discovered fell by 2.1 percent in the first half of 2015 – 7,300 fake notes worth 150.8 million rubles ($2.7 million). Of these, 76.7 percent were 5,000 ruble bills ($88), the largest denomination.
The ruble’s value fell when the West imposed sanctions over Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis and when oil, Russia’s main export, prices fell. Since January 2015, the value of the ruble has fallen by 40 percent against the U.S. dollar and almost 30 percent against the euro.
The European Central Bank has reported that in the second half of 2014, 507,000 counterfeit notes were withdrawn from circulation from a total of 16 billion real euro bills in circulation for the same period.
There has also been a resurgence of black market currency trading similar to the Cold War era, with everyone from taxi drivers to staff working in hotels frequented by tourists offering visitors exchange rates much higher than they would get at official foreign exchange centers or banks.