Counterfeit Detection

A Guide to Spotting Counterfeit Currency

world currency

How to Spot a Counterfeit

By now you should know a little bit about bank notes, the way they are printed and the types of features that they have on them. You even know about the methods that are used to counterfeit them.

The best chance you have of detecting a counterfeit is knowing your currency.Many countries, on issuing newly designed notes, will also publicise many of the security features present on them, so that the general public can verify that they have the genuine article.

So what is the plan of action for assessing whether a note is counterfeit? If possible view the suspicious note alongside one that you know is genuine, e.g one you have just got out of an ATM machine.




Feel the paper A new genuine note has very crisp paper with a distinctive feel. The paper is often the initial give away for a counterfeit note, it tends to be a lot floppier than the real thing. We are all used to handing cash on an everyday basis and know the feel of a real note even if we are not aware of it!
Feel the paper The print on a bank note also produces a very distinctive feel with the intaglio areas being raised compared to the rest. This effect is most pronounced on brand new notes. The paper is often the initial give away for a counterfeit note, it tends to be a lot floppier than the real thing. We are all used to handing cash on an everyday basis and know the feel of a real note even if we are not aware of it!
Hold the note up to the light What you will be able to see depends upon the features present but generally most bank notes carry a watermark and thread. A thread will always appear as a solid line when viewed in this way and good watermark detail should be seen. If a see through feature is present the front and back images should produce the composite Some counterfeiters will attempt to simulate a watermark but it will be lacking in the fine detail seen in an original and the image may be visible when not held up to the light. Some also attempt to reproduce the effect of the thread but again it is more likely to be visible when not looking at the note using transmitted light.
The register of a see through feature is likely to be imprecise so that a composite image is not produced.
Print Quality A genuine note has very crisp well define print with plenty of tonal range in the intaglioareas. The print quality of counterfeits is very inferior, fine details are lost and areas can sometimes appear blurred.
Magnifying Glass Now we are getting serious! If you have one take a magnifying glass and have a really close look at the note. Under magnification the print quality will still look crisp. You should be able to read any microtext messages present. What you see under magnification will depend on how the note has been counterfeited. The presence of cyan yellow magenta and black dots, a raster line (often seen on colour copy counterfeits )or poorly defined lines are indicators.
What will be apparent is the major loss of detail; microtext will be difficult if not impossible to read.
UV Lamp Not something we all have lying around the house but if you do have access to an ultra violet lamp it is a useful viewing tool. Any ultra violet featurewill show up and the paper will appear dull. Counterfeiters will not always counterfeit what can't be seen in normal light and may have omitted a simulation of an ultraviolet feature. Very often the paper they use is UV bright, meaning that it glows more than banknote paper under UV light
Colour The colours on a genuine note are clear and well defined and metallic ink area have a sheen. The colours seen on a counterfeit note can sometime appear washed out or off gamut. Colour copiers sometime copy both light greens and oranges as yellows. Metallic areas often do not have a sheen.
Feature Checks The checks you can perform here depend entirely on what is present on the genuine currency and of course knowing what to look for
Latent Images
When viewed obliquely a hidden image should emerge
Because the mechanism which produces a latent image is a result of the tactile nature of intaglio, this effect will not be seen on a counterfeit unless some simulation of intaglio has been attempted. This alone will not ensure that a latent image effect will be produced.
Optically Variable Ink
A colour shift should be seen from this feature as the angle of viewing is changed.
A very difficult effect to simulate, the colour shift effect will generally not be seen on a counterfeit note.
The feature produces multi colours and differnt images depending upon the angle of viewing.
Extremely difficult to reproduce but the counterfeiter may simulate it by a plain shiny foil.
A particular design is hot blocked onto a note. Extra security is provided by overprinting with intaglio design. The feature is seen in a variety of colours and has a very high sheen.
The feature will appear as a black area on a colour copier counterfeit. Some counterfeiters will attempt to simulate it but printing on top of it will be difficult.
Anti Copy Tints
These are very flat unassuming features revealing nothing.
These features can be activated depending on the method used to counterfeit the note. A half tone separation method will produce a visual disturbance within the area either producing interference fringes, patterns which pop out or words that emerge.
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