LONDON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The European Central Bank says organized crime is taking advantage of high-tech printing techniques to ratchet up the level of euro counterfeiting.
Bank officials told Sky News several crime rings were likely involved in the production of phony notes that has tarnished the euro's reputation as one of the most counterfeit-proof currencies in the world.
"The quality doesn't have to be particularly excellent and this is why you will very rarely see completely new bank notes when they are forged," explained banknote expert Yasher Beresine. "They are always a little bit torn, a little bit used, because it is, of course, much more difficult then to detect."
The bank said there was an 18 percent increase in the number of counterfeit bills seized in the first half of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007.
Sky News reported Saturday it demonstrated the seeming availability of the counterfeits by purchasing a stack of forged 50-euro bills in Europe and spending them at pubs and other businesses in Dublin without being detected.