Sunday, December 7, 2008

Counterfeit Money

I have a couple of other longer posts going on but I wanted to share this little tip with you because it’s one that can save you a lot of money, for real.

I’m not so sure how used you are to detecting counterfeit money.
In Spain, I’ve been handed funny money IN A BANK, without the employee realizing it unitl I told her, so I suppose that at least there, people aren’t used to it.

Point is -> economical crisis -> people need money-> some genius realize they can “make” money.

So sooner or later you start seeing a lot of counterfeited money. Some is better made than other, but this will probably become a problem in due time.

After our 2001 crisis, it happen after a few months, about a year.
It already happened before teh crisis, always had some funny money around, but after the crisis you noticed an increased number of it. There was a lot of fake money around, even fake coins. (someone made a killer there, since it was very hard to tell the fake coins from the cheapo post crisis coinage)

Inexpensive gadget that can save thousands ( literally!)


I started carry one of these ultraviolet LED lights. Not this particular brand, but one similar in terms of function.

Just lighting it over the bill would quickly tell you if the money was either fake, real, or maybe a good copy. I’m saying this because other things must be checked to before you can tell it’s not fake, but the light helps a lot.

I must say, I don’t carry one of these any more, and use the space for a real LED flashlight.
Why? Because after years of this, I humbly must admit that I got good at telling funny money form the real one. But don’t get too cocky, don’t think you can tell the difference too just because you think you be able to. Wait until you’ve detected about 50 counterfeit bills give or take( in actual exchanges and in payments at the cash register) before you can claim that.:) Better to be humble than loosing 100 bucks.
Now, things to look for, besides the light:

What to Look For:

1) Overall feel, the paper, the graphic quality. I’ve found fake money that had ugly quality paper. Not quality fake money, but in a rush you might not notice. Even with a home printer they can do this low quality counterfeit, so take a breath when you have money in your hand, and look at it well. Do not rush.
I remember once, I found a bill that was wrong since I first had it in my hand? Low quality and obviously fake but something else, What was it?.. After comparing it with a real one it was clear that it was 1/10 smaller. :)

2) The ink used. A real USD bill will leave a mark when rubbed against white paper ( the darker numbers)

3) The water mark. Don’t just make sure it’s there, make sure it has all the detail. I once found a fake dollar that had the watermark portrait, but with much less detail. It was hand make. Good detail, but not enough. Fake. Some look like drawn by a 5 years old, others a real work of art, making the bill probably more valuable than the real deal. :)

4) The vertical strip. Only noticeable when looking through the bill with a light in the back.
This should not only be there, but have numbers in it. I once found one that was a simple black strip inside the paper. Fake.

5) Look at the shiny ink marks, the one that sparkles a bit, it should be clearly defined, and not messed up a bit.

6) The numbers, the ones that change color when you look at it at a different angle, it should clearly change color.

7) Last the paper. Touch it, look at a lot of real paper bills trough light. The paper money is printed on is special, has a number of marks, a texture, that is different from ordinary paper.

These are basically the things I look for in money. I’m sure I’m forgetting some and there are others too, but check these, with the light to help, and you’ll avoid most counterfeit money out there.

Seems like a long list now that I look at it, but once you get used to it you check all these things in seconds.



Morninghawk Apollo said...

Do you use counterfeit detection pens at all? How reliable are they for detection?

They're supposed to change color based on the chemicals in the paper, but I wonder if any counterfeits might have the chemical compounds correct in the paper to fool these pens.

FerFAL said...

Hi, yes they can be fooled and I personally dont use them at all.

It's much better to check all the built in security features instead.
That's what experts do, and it's the only way to tell for sure.

Check this for more detailed info;

Take care.


Anonymous said...

FerFal, I am so happy to hear that you are writing a book. I have been looking for something about surviving inflation. Everyone talks about deflation, but I know that eventually this funny money will turn around into inflation... I don't see any alternative. It's the only way the government can get out of it's future obligations (hopefully the USA will survive to that point.)

Anonymous said...

A question for you:
FerFal, why do you stay in Argentina? Do you see yourself moving to Spain, California, Mexico, or Europe someday? Is it because of your businesses? Is it because of real estate? Or is it because your family is there? I'm curious because I can see myself moving to Australia or New Zealand someday, but maybe I never would. Thanks, Tina

FerFAL said...

I’ve been planning to leave to USA for years now. Unfortunately it’s not that simple ( USA isnt' crazy about more immigrants ) , and me wanting to finish Architecture was an important part of that ( 6 years) moving away in 48 hs like a refugee is easy but the consequences for doing so you may end up paying your entire life.
Same could be said about staying in a dangerous country, but keep in mind we lived here almost all our lives, we are pretty used to it.


Anonymous said...

If you leave Argentinia forever, you are crazy. Argentinia is wonderful. Just compare to other countries. In Europe it is not perfect and in the USA there are many problems.

Get some money and stay comfortably in your wonderful country.

I seriously consider emigrating to south america.

FerFAL said...

1)Where are you from?
2) Have you ever lived in South America?


Stuki said...

Right now is probably not an easy time to immigrate to the US as an Architect. Every office is dramatically cutting back on hours, and if they have not already, will soon start laying off staff in droves. The whole building / construction trade is pretty much in free fall.

Maybe, just maybe, if crime here gets really bad, and / or gas really expensive, you can come in as an expert on secure and defensible urban houses or some such. I know I have learned a lot from your writings about how your house is pretty well setup to defend against invasions. Things like walls providing protection from at least handgun rounds, upstairs windows with a clear view to the entrance gate etc. Here, I have _none_ of that, and neither do most people. And that is something that would really bother me should SHTF.

Anonymous said...

Do you use counterfeit detection pens at all?

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, you have no clue what to expect in the USA or Europe.
In USA expect horrible divorce laws.

In Europe expect civil unrest in the next decades.

It seems you live pretty comfortably in Argentina, your problem is not money. So stay there or work in the US and Europe, but just that.

If you plan to earn just money it may be good idea to go to europe or USA. But not for living.

FerFAL said...

"Do you use counterfeit detection pens at all?"
No, not at all.

"Maybe, just maybe, if crime here gets really bad, and / or gas really expensive, you can come in as an expert on secure and defensible urban houses or some such. I know I have learned a lot from your writings about how your house is pretty well setup to defend against invasions. Things like walls providing protection from at least handgun rounds, upstairs windows with a clear view to the entrance gate etc. Here, I have _none_ of that, and neither do most people. And that is something that would really bother me should SHTF."

That's kind of the idea.
Apply what I know about secuirty and social unrest in general to better designed homes.


skymetalsmith said...

I think money has a smell. I don't think it can be duplicated. I may be wrong, so I will start looking with my eye closer!

Anonymous said...

FerFal, do you have any thoughts about this article?

Yes, We Have No Monedas!


Bukko Boomeranger said...

You can find counterfeit money even in countries where the currency looks hard to duplicate. In Australia, the bills are made of plastic, not paper. They're colourful, come in different sizes depending on the denomination, and have a clear plastic window with embossed designs. Not a thing you could easily duplicate on a copy machine.

The owner of a cafe around the corner from where I live showed me a fake Aussie $50 that was passed at his place. With even a quick inspection, you could see that the colour was muddy, the bill was not plastic, and the clear window had been glued into a cut-out space. It seemed a lot of work for 50 Aussie dollars, which are only worth about $37 U.S. And times are not that bad here -- yet.

But crooks can get away with fakes if they hustle you to take money fast. It pays to slow down and look at each banknote, as FerFAL says. Now my friend at the cafe is going to have to become a criminal himself and stick someone else with the fake money, because he can't afford to turn it in to the police and take a $50 loss.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about other currencies but if you run your thumbnail across the fine lines alongside the portraits on US bills, you can feel the raised ridges.

Anonymous said...

I think too many people are too scared of getting a counterfeit. I handle money daily as part of my job. I *KNOW* the feel it has. I know the texture of the ink, the weight of the paper, the smell, the color, etc, etc. If, and that's a big IF, you get passed one of these, it is obviously a pretty good one. Play dumb and just go on with things.

Harriett Faulks said...

Well, this information can certainly help people detect counterfeit money. However, for people with little experience with detecting counterfeit money, it would be good to have a counterfeit money detector. Counterfeit money can easily be identified by a light detector, and it can save you time and effort if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to check the bank notes.