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Beware of Counterfeit Money How to Tell If it's the Real Deal

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Consider this: most if not all SMEs will be the recipient of fake bills at some point in their business lives. Nowadays, with sophisticated color copier machines, ink-jet printers, scanners and imaging software in widespread use, the probability of fake currency entering circulation has gone up.

In view of more refined production methods, being able to recognize what authentic money looks and feels like is a skill of utmost importance. You should be able to advise your clerks and cashiers on the basic security features of genuine money to help protect your business against fraud.

Ms. Zenaida Gloria J. Ching, an expert in spotting fake currency with more than 18 years experience at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shares the following distinguishing marks of genuine money:

  1. Real bills are rough and course in texture. The term “paper money” is a misnomer as the bills is a combination of cotton and abaca fibers, thereby making them slightly grainy to the touch.
  2. The portrait on the face of the bill is solid and life-like. The biggest feature occupying the largest space in front is the portrait It is bolder in color, and composed of well-defined lines that give it a 3D effect and make it stand out from the background. The eyes are made of concentric lines that provide the portrait with an animated appearance.
  3. Vignettes at the back are depicted in rich detail. Take for example the sketches featuring highlights in the life of Ninoy Aquino that appear at the back of the P500 peso bill. These designs consist mainly of finely defined lines separated by white spaces. Lacework and other background designs are likewise done in geometric patterns made up of intricate and well-defined lines.
  4. Security colored fibers and metallic threads are embedded in the bill. Red and blue fibers can be found embedded at random on the face and back of the note. A pointed instrument can actually pick these tine fibers off. A metallic thread located vertically off center to the right is also embedded while printing.
  5. A shiny band is placed vertically across portrait. A 10-millimeter gold-colored stripe on which the figures 100, 500 or 1000 measuring 5 millimeter in height are printed can be found shimmering vertically off center to the left.
  6. Paper feels substantial and solid to the touch. The uncut material with 32 pieces of money is ordered from abroad, and is subjected to tremendous pressure from a sharp machine to separate the bills in a printing process called intaglio. Consequently, paper money is packed solidly with no fraying edges and thread.
  7. Watermark figure is distinct and well defined. Perhaps the method most familiar to the layman when checking the authenticity of money, the shadow of the composite portrait appears in sharp detail against a clear field area when money is held against the light.

As live money exchanges hands everyday, being familiar with genuine bills will go a long way towards helping you preserve the rewards of your hard work. Forewarned is forearmed, so they say, and being knowledgeable about the basic visual and physical characteristics of money will help you avoid being victimized by counterfeiters.

If you should encounter fake bills, you may contact the Currency Analysis and Redemption Division or Investigative Staff of the BSP Cash Department at the Tel. Nos. 524-2777, 523-9806 and 524-7011 locals 2296 and 2388. You may also get in touch with the nearest BSP regional or sub-regional office or cash unit.

Source: Business Line Vol. 2 No. 1 2004

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