Counterfeit Detection: Is It Real Or Is It Fake?

Posted on 6/18/2019

Under special lighting, it becomes obvious which of these notes is a forgery.

Is it real or is it fake? This question should be asked before any banknote is purchased. Spotting a counterfeit note that is over 120 years old may seem simple, but counterfeiters have found many ways to fool the unwary collector. That’s where the expertise of PMG comes in. We are here to fully assess each banknote that comes through our facilities daily.

One of these notes is a counterfeit while the other two are genuine examples. Which one is fake?

Is this note real or fake? Find out the answer below.
Click image to enlarge.

Is this note real or fake? Find out the answer below.
Click image to enlarge.

Is this note real or fake? Find out the answer below.
Click image to enlarge.

All of the serial numbers are within a similar range, so that doesn’t offer any clues. The left signature for this series should be hand signed and the right signature is printed. Again, everything seems to match.

Well, finding the answer becomes much easier and very obvious using special lighting!

Special lighting revealed that this note is a counterfeit.
Click image to enlarge.

The correct answer was number one. Someone lifted the ‘Forgery’ stamp from the note to make it appear as a genuine. The counterfeiter also changed the serial number to one that was closer in range to known genuine notes. It would seem that the serial number was changed after the ‘Forgery’ stamp was applied, which is evident from the fact that the ‘Forgery’ stamp is underneath the serial number.

Counterfeit note with altered serial number.
Click image to enlarge.

With close examination, traces of purple ink can be seen under the serial number. This is more easily seen in the next two images.

Close-up of counterfeit note with altered serial number.
Click images to enlarge.

Be assured that every note is closely scrutinized before we grade and encapsulate. Collectors can also be confident that any note encapsulated by PMG is backed by the PMG Guarantee of grade and authenticity.


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