How To Identify A Counterfeit Note

How To Identify A Counterfeit Note

There has been a rash of counterfeit banknotes doing the rounds in Sydney over the past month, with police warning NSW businesses to be extra vigilant. Here are some detection tips from the NSW Fraud and Cybercrime Squad that will help you to stick with legal tender.

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Over the past month, the number of counterfeit banknote reports in Sydney has almost doubled; spiking from 41 in June to 81 in August. The illegal notes have been found in such disparate locations as Newtown, Penrith and Wagga Wagga. Many of the counterfeit bills were only picked up at bank counting machines after retailers had accepted the payment.

So what can you do to avoid this bogus bread? Australia actually has a pretty good record when it comes to counterfeiting. According to Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis who heads the state’s Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, most fake bills carry multiple tell-tale signs that become obvious under serious inspection.

These include paper that scrunches easily, printed images that are noticeably blurred or faded, material that’s easy to tear, a missing or incorrectly shaped clear window and slightly thinner/thicker plastic paper than normal. Victims tend to be busy retailers who don’t have the time or wherewithal to examine every note that enters their till.

With that said, some counterfeiting operations are more sophisticated than others. If a bill looks legit but you’ve still for your doubts, you can give the darker area of the note a rub — this uses special raised ink that you can feel under your finger. Real banknotes will also contain tiny words near the portraits which you can see under a magnifying glass. If all else fails, get out a UV light and check if the serial numbers are fluorescent.

This video from the Reserve Bank explains a bunch of other security features to look out for:

If you suspect a banknote you’ve been given is counterfeit, the police recommend taking a description of the person who gave it to you and reporting the incident to your local police station. You should also try and avoid handling the note so it can be used in forensic investigations.

[Via Business Insider]


  • The embossing inside the clear window is also extremely hard to duplicate.
    Er, so I’m told, heh-heh.

    The number in there should be clear, but raised from the rest of the window. It can be hard to spot in some notes, but I know for sure it’s in the $20, $50 and $100. (Unsure if it’s in the $5 and $10).

  • Can’t watch the video atm so not sure if it was mentioned, but another good thing to check is whether the edges are coloured or not. This is one way they are picked up easier in the bank as they are lined up with a bundle of other notes which can be compared side on.

  • “Australia actually has a pretty good record when it comes to counterfeiting.” So, Australia is good at counterfeiting?

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