Counterfeit Detection: India 5 Rupee

This month's edition shows how specialized lighting can be used to detect the removal of a serial number with the addition of a new one.

PMG has graded over 18,000 Indian notes and has seen many forms of alteration. The 5 Rupee note pictured below, Pick #33, has been altered so that it has a 1 million serial number. Notes with fancy serial numbers like this are considered more desirable and more valuable to collectors, and regular serial numbers are often changed to fancy ones in an attempt to add value to the note.

India 5 Rupee note (Pick #33) with altered serial number.

At first glance, nothing appears to be wrong with this serial number, but a closer inspection reveals some red flags, telling us that the number is in fact altered.

Close-up of altered serial number (left) and genuine serial number (right).

The underprint around the numbers has a hazy quality compared to the well-defined lines on a genuine note. It looks that way because it is not original to the note. In fact, it was printed onto the note with a laser jet printer, which was detected by the tiny dots that make up the print.

Specialized lighting shows ink that is not original to the note.

When viewed under different types of lighting, the alteration becomes even more evident. The way the underprint fluoresces a bright white in the image shown above tells us that the ink is not original. The underprint around the serial number should appear the same as the ink on the rest of the note.

Specialized lighting shows traces of a serial number that was removed.

The above image shows exactly how this alteration took place. In the spaces between the visible numbers, imprints of original numbers are now visible.

In addition, the texture of those hidden numbers differs from the paper at the margin of the note: the numbers appear very rough while the margins look more smooth. This means that the previous numbers were physically scraped off, disturbing the texture of the paper. After the serial number and surrounding underprint were removed, the forger then printed the serial number of their choosing and a new underprint with a laser jet printer. And voilà, they have a 1 million serial number.

Identifying an alteration can be difficult to the untrained eye. Here at PMG, we have experienced graders and equipment to catch alterations. Collectors can be assured that any note encapsulated by PMG is backed by the PMG Guarantee of grade and authenticity.

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