19 Feb How to: Spot fake RMB notes
Crime rates in China are very low on the international standard, especially violent crime. Travelling to China as a tourist, student or worker is generally really safe and almost always fulfilling. However just like any other country, there is one thing to look out when dealing with cash – counterfeit notes. Although the counterfeit situation has greatly improved over the past few years – due to government action and the rise of mobile payments – fake bills still circulate the market and make their way towards their unlucky individuals.
Distinguishing fake from real bills is a good skill to have in any country, you may have even noticed your local shopkeeper checking your bills when you pay with cash. Being able to tell on the spot, which bills are real and which are fake can save you both money and embarrassment when your notes are rejected.
High-risk situations for counterfeit money are small convenience stores and late-night taxis. For taxis at night, generally after a few drinks, your ability to check for counterfeit clues will be hindered. Sometimes those giving you change will even go to the extent of putting real bills on the top and bottom, with fakes ones in the middle.
The last general tip is that among counterfeit notes, 20 RMB are the most common, followed by 50 RMB then 100 RMB. Keep this in mind when you are suspicious or in a high-risk situation.
How to check
Criteria are divided into basic, intermediate and advanced, with the higher levels increasing in counterfeiting complexity i.e. harder to fake past. These checks are the same and apply for all RMB notes.
There is a specific whipping sound with real bills that can be distinguished from fake ones, you will have to try this for yourself with a fake bill to see the difference.
– Counterfeit line (color)
A thin, golden line that has been added as a protective measure which can be seen as you change your angle of observation. Many counterfeit bills will have this.
Next to the counterfeit line, you will also see a watermark portrait as you change your observation angle.
– Counterfeit line (ridge)
On the same counterfeit line mentioned earlier, if you move your finger across the bill, you will feel a small ridge or rise where the line is placed on the bill.
– Jacket and hair (texture)
The jacket will be rougher in texture with ridges where the collar starts. The hair will be smoother than the rest of the bill.
– Top left corner logo (texture)
Logo on the corner is slightly elevated and has a different texture from the rest of the note.
– Fade away number (20,50,100 etc.)
On the bottom is also a number that fades depending on observation angle, the number represents the value of the note.
Taking a white piece of paper and rubbing it against the note will leave some of the notes color on the piece of paper. This indicates a higher chance of being genuine.
– Folding patters
As seen in the two images, whichever way you fold and connect the note, the patterns will match perfectly. This is hard to counterfeit and a good method to stick by.
Banks and stores that deal with large amounts of cash will use these. Machines are very hard to fake bills through – counterfeit notes will have to be made to specifically get past machine detection.
While it is unlikely to be victim of major counterfeit bill scams, the ability to distinguish between fake and real bills in any country is a useful skill to have, and China is no exception.
To keep it simple, Maxxelli recommends a combination of the intermediate watermark and advanced folding pattern check.