Counterfeit money in Argentina
Counterfeit bills is very common in Argentina especially in the big cities. One of the reasons could be the current economic crisis. In a previous post I have written about exchanging money in Argentina. However, when you are exchanging money ANYWHERE in Argentina, you need to make sure that you are not handed counterfeit or fake money.
I was recently waiting for my bus at Retiro bus station in Buenos Aires, when a young German traveller was handing a 100 Peso bill to the lady at the kiosk. She immediately told her that the money was fake. The girl explained to her that she got the money from an ATM in the city. The woman told her that it is normal and you cannot trust anybody. I was alarmed to say the least. Imagine, fake money from the bank? What is happening here?
This subject was also discussed in one of the travel forums where I am a contributor. A lady said that they received fake 100 Peso bills from the ATM in Calle Florida near Avenida Sante Fe. The bank in question was Banco Patagonia, 999 Florida. The person received six fake bills and went to complain to the bank manager but nothing could be done and they lost the money. Another person received fake notes from Citi Bank,also in Calle Florida.
Exercise care when dealing with taxi drivers and night clubs.
Each person dealing with money in Argentina is affected and should know what to look for when they receive money.
What to look for?
It is not difficult to identify counterfeit money and I will give you a couple of tips on what to look for.
1. Hold the bill up to the light and look for the security thread. The $50 and $100 pesos will have a shiny thread that weaves in and out through the material.
2. Feel the money. Fake money will feel like normal paper. If you touch the face of the man on the bills ( The $100 pesos bill has the face of ex-president Julio Argentino Rojas) you will feel that the paper is slightly raised. The same goes for the diamond shape at the top of the bill. This diamond shape also changes colour. The $100 peso bill has one dark blue diamond and the $50 peso bill has two black diamond shapes. They are also slightly raised when you touch the paper. The paper that money is printed on is normally expensive and feel different to normal paper.
3. There are two identical numbers on the face of the bills. In the top right hand corner and in the bottom left corner. These numbers must always be the same. Be careful when you receive money and make sure that the same number is not duplicated on various bills. This is a sure sign of a fake note. The number can also be seen as a watermark at the back of the bill.
4. The Watermark is very important and criminals printing fake bills always battle to get the details right. The number in (3) above can clearly been seen when the bill is turned around and held against the light. The face of the ex-president ($100 note) and the activist Domingo Faustino Sarmiento ($50) can be clearly seen when the bill is held against the light. With fraudulent notes the watermark is there but not clearly defined and the contrast is not good. In addition you will see the initials of these men at the bottom of the watermark image.
It seems like the most popular fraudulent notes are the 100 and 50 peso bills. It is also important to note that the old 100 peso bill have been replaced with the new Eva Peron note, although we don`t often see the note, it is in circulation.
How to avoid being given counterfeit money and what to do when you receive a fake note?
Take your time when receiving bills and check for the above. Don`t worry, people are used to this and won`t feel offended. The only people who might feel offended and say something is the taxi drivers.
If you are handed fake notes by the ATM, keep your receipt and ask to speak to the Branch Manager as quickly as possible. It is not likely that you will be refunded but it will bring it under the attention of a senior person. Most likely it is somebody working inside the bank who has replaced the real notes with fakes.
When you withdraw money from the ATM ask for smaller denominations. I have mentioned before it seems like the most popular fake notes are the $100 and $50 peso bills.
Try to pay the taxi drivers with smaller notes. If you have no choice and need to pay with a $50 or $100, make sure you check the watermark in front of the driver. Also try to memorize the last 3 digits of the serial number or fold the corner of the note. Why? They tend to swap notes and say that you have handed them a fake note thus keeping the fake money into circulation.
They cannot help you. It is tough times in Argentina and unfortunately people will scam the innocent. It is not important if you are Argentinian, old, young or a tourist although the unsuspected tourist is often the victim.
Don`t even bother to go to the police. You will just be wasting your time. Like one officer said to a couple who complained:”Go to a kiosk and find an old man who will not know the difference and pay him with the fake note”. Imagine that!