The Art of Avoiding Bogus Bank Notes

In the past 18 months, police have sent out 20 press releases reporting cases of counterfeit currency in circulation. Usually, there's a rash of cases spread out over a month, and then the circulation of the fake notes subsides, and then they suddenly re-appear a month later. And in most cases, the business owners get burnt; they find out they've got counterfeit after the try to deposit or pass on the money. But in Cayo last week, there was an interesting case when a woman was caught in the act of trying to make a purchase with a counterfeit note. According to the Cayo Star newspaper, when police caught her, she quickly pointed to two men across the street who sent her to buy and they also had fake notes in their possession. The arrest has led to the discovery of over a thousand dollars in counterfeit currency notes in fifty and one hundred dollar denominations. At least 5 businesses in San Ignacio and Santa Elena are known to have been burnt in the scam. So how can you protect yourself and your business against such fraud? Jim McFadzean went to the central bank today to find out.

Jim McFadzean, Reporting

The fifty and one hundred dollar counterfeit notes that have been circulated in the western district are now in the possession of the police, but have not been presented to the Central Bank of Belize, at least not yet, for their perusal. But the Bank's Director for Banking and Currency, Michelle Estell is advising the public to get to know the security features on Belize currency to avoid falling victim to this most recent of scams.

Michelle Estell, Director, Banking & Currency - Central Bank of Belize
"On each bank note the public can look for the shining window thread on each bank note. They can look for the watermark; each bank note has the watermark. First of all they can feel the print on a bank note, if they rub their fingers along the surface they will feel a raise print. There is also a see through feature when held up to the light, you will see that it forms a complete design with the back design and the front design. The shining window thread when held up to the light forms a complete line. The watermark for the $2, $5, $10 and $20 is the Sleeping Giant, while in the $100 and $50 it is the jaguar. On the $50 there is an angel fish a green foil angel fish and on the $100 there is a toucan hologram, when you tilt it you will see the numeral 100 and small toucans in it. For business place they can use a UV light or a magnifier. Using a UV light, you will see some fluorescent features that will be display on all bank notes. Using the magnifier, if you look at the bottom panel and on the front of the note on the top and bottom panel you will see the word Central Bank of Belize and the value of the note."

Once again, some of the key security features to look for are: the watermark Sleeping Giant on the Two, Five, Ten and Twenty dollar bills. On the larger denominations: the Fifty and One Hundred dollar bills, there is a see through feature of the Jaguar. You will also find a Halogram depicting the Angel fish on the Fifty, while on the One Hundred you will find a Toucan Halogram.

All businesses are encouraged to invest in either a UV light or a simple magnifier that will assist in easily identifying the security features of the various notes.

"Nightclubs and restaurants are favourite targets of such counterfeit fraud, because of poor lighting and crowds. And so those who must conduct business at night are asked to be extremely vigilant when accepting such currencies." Reporting for Seven News, I'm Jim McFadzean.

In that Cayo case, the Star reports that police arrested Kareem Grant, 21, Belizean fisherman, of #114 Neals Pen Road, Belize City, Robert Young, 22, Belizean laborer, of a Mahogany Heights address, Belize District, and Shawn Gardiner, 33, a Belizean hairdresser, of an 8th Street address in San Ignacio Town.

Grant, Young and Shawn Gardiner were all charged in for possession of counterfeit notes. The trio appeared before San Ignacio Magistrate, Anna Rachel Montejo, on Wednesday, July 7, 2010, where they all pleaded not guilty. They were offered and met bail of one thousand dollars and were ordered to return to court on Wednesday, July 28, 2010.

http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=17335
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