August 12, 2015
Central Bank Governor Wendy Craigg yesterday issued an advisory from The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB), warning Bahamians of a rash of counterfeit $100 bills in circulation and outlining ways to identify the fake banknotes, which she said are more difficult – but not impossible – to detect.
Craigg told Guardian Business yesterday that while counterfeiting is always cause for concern, the bank is monitoring the situation.
“We’ve only had so far for the year ten using this strategy or technique, and it happens from time to time. It’s not something that you can avoid. People have been counterfeiting bank notes from the very beginning. That’s why its so important for us to ensure that we have high levels of security in the notes,” she said.
“If the public is able to just follow those techniques that we have given, they will be able to see whether it’s a counterfeit note.”
Craigg said that while the community must remain vigilant, employing the techniques for identifying this latest counterfeit should prevent problems.
“There’s a tendency to just go about accepting currency on a routine basis, but if you receive a hundred dollar note, we are giving out this advisory now: take a look at the note, and you can tell whether its a counterfeit just by looking at the features we identified,” she said.
In a separate statement issued yesterday, Craigg noted that the counterfeit notes are of the CRISP $100 banknote released in 2009, and are printed on genuine banknote paper, making them more difficult to detect. Central Bank officials highlighted four distinguishing features to look for:
• Does the watermark in the paper match the printed portrait and the value of the note? The $100 note should have a watermark of the Queen and the numeral 100;
• Does the note look refined? There are no poorly finished images on a genuine banknote, but the counterfeit notes circulating bear a very crude silver ink patch over the map of the islands, instead of a shimmery three dimensional holographic patch;
• Does the note feel real? There is no mistaking a real banknote. The process used by high quality commercial banknote printers leaves a “raised feeling” on the surface of the note. Run your fingers over a genuine note then do the same on a regular sheet of paper. You will feel ridges in the printing of the genuine note but the sheet of paper will feel flat. A counterfeit note will, typically, also feel flat;
• If you have a black fluorescent light, use it. A genuine note under black fluorescent light will reveal small colorful security fibers in the paper. Since the counterfeit notes circulating are printed on real paper, these fibers will also exist on the fake note. The genuine note will, however, also show a large fluorescent 100 numeral in the centre of the note — this is missing from the counterfeit versions.
Craigg explained that the perpetrators of this crime have taken genuine $1 banknotes, removed the inks by washing or through some chemical process, and have overprinted the genuine $1 paper with the image of a $100 banknote. This means that the resulting counterfeit $100 banknotes have some characteristics of genuine notes, but, when examined closely, are clearly fakes.
An examination of a genuine $1 banknote, by holding it up to a light source, shows a watermark of Sir Lynden Pindling in the lower left-hand corner and the numeral 1. CBOB Banking Manager Derek Rolle confirmed that this watermark, which is part of the paper and cannot be removed, coincides with the portrait of Sir Lynden Pindling printed on the note and the denomination of that note. All other denominations in the family, he added, follow the same strategy — where the watermark consists of an image of the printed portrait and the value numeral. Therefore, the $5 note bears a watermark of Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and the numeral 5 coinciding with the printed portrait and the denomination’s value; the $10 — Sir Stafford Sands and the value numeral 10; the $20 — Sir Milo Butler and the numeral 20; the $50 — Sir Roland Symonette and the numeral 50; and the $100, Queen Elizabeth II and the numeral 100.
Central Bank officials explained that, with the introduction of the CRISP family of banknotes, in 2005, the Bank incorporated denomination-specific watermarks which allow the public to tell, at a glance, if the paper matches the denomination. As the counterfeit $100 banknotes seen recently are produced on $1 paper, there are genuine watermarks — but those watermarks are of Sir Lynden and the numeral 1 instead of the Queen and the numeral 100. There are also genuine color-shifting threads in the counterfeit notes, which, at a glance, make them appear real.
Craigg added that the bank has had an ongoing commitment to upgrade security of the currency.
“This has kept the incidents of counterfeiting in The Bahamas at relatively low levels. When you look at the global average, its about 50 counterfeit banknotes per million: for us in The Bahamas, we have detected fewer than 3.55 banknotes per million over the past five years,” the governor noted.
She stressed that the bank is always upgrading the security features in the currency.
“We are coming out with a new family of banknotes next year. Every time we produce a new banknote, we look at what is available in the market and we upgrade it with new security features. That’s a consistent practice of the Central Bank,” she said.
The public is invited to call the Bank’s Currency Unit, at 302-2629. And the Central Bank hosts counterfeit detection seminars twice a year in Nassau, and once a year in Freeport, at no charge to participants. These seminars are open to the public and merchants, in particular, are urged to take advantage of them. Merchants are also able to arrange special seminars for their staff, at no charge. Meanwhile, the bank conveyed its thanks to those members of the public who, through social media and word-of-mouth, quickly circulated knowledge about this counterfeit $100 note.
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