Last week, my colleague got a RMB 10 fake note, which he passed it off to me. I told him it was fake and he looked dumbstruck and wasn't puzzled by the fact that it was fake but instead by the fact that it was a lesser valued note. The scary part is we rarely pay attention to these notes when we are handed back our change after paying for a taxi or at a xiaomaibu etc.

After receiving five fake RMB 100 notes, I became more aware on what to look for in the 100s. The smaller denomination notes such as RMB 20, RMB 10, and the rest follow the same principles. So as to avoid the discerning look when paying with a fake note from the shop attendants or your friends here are tips on how to tell a fake note fast:

  • Paper: Ruffle the bill in your hands (try not to crumple the note) what you are looking for isn't the feel but the sound the paper makes. The sound of a real note is distinctive as it makes a little crackling noise while fake notes just sound like muffled new paper.
  • Texture: On the right side of all notes, there's a illustration of Chairman Mao; take your thumb and gently rub against the collar of the picture. The texture should feel slightly rough as opposed to a very smooth fake note. The picture should feel as if it's raised from the paper. The name zhongguo renmin yinhang should also be raised instead of being flat.
  • Watermarks: In the RMB 5, 10, and 20 notes, each has its own distinct floral design on the white space to the left side when held towards a light source. In the RMB 50 and 100 Chairman Mao's face will be the distinct feature. The first clue you will see is that the images aren't transparent in fake notes as opposed to in the real ones.  
  • The invisible value: On the top right corner near the picture of Chairman Mao, and below the monetary value, there's a secondary translucent value just below, which can only be seen when the bill is held at 180 degrees against the light. Some fake notes will have this but it won't be as clear as on a real note.
  • Security line: One familiar feature on all notes is the metallic-looking security line, which will sit on the note in fake ones, not interwoven as found in real notes.

The other ways to check are when you want to really study the note such as:

  • There’s a mismatch between some of the patterns printed on each side of the fake bills.
  • There are irregular gaps between the digits that make up the serial number (in the bottom left-hand corner) of a fake note.
  • Checking for the colorless fluorescent value at the top of the note. This won't appear as distinctive or at all on a fake note when placed under an ultraviolet light. 

This article first appeared on our sister site beijingkids.

Images: politico.com, Women of China


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