The number of counterfeit banknotes in circulation in Mexico rebounded during 2015, putting an end to a two-year streak of declining numbers.
The Bank of México has reported 71 fake banknotes per million in circulation for a total of 306,063 bills, an increase of 12.5% over the 272,070 bills detected during 2014.
The value of the counterfeit money was equivalent to 99.1 million pesos (US $5.4 million), with the most common fake bills being denominations of 20, 100 and 500 pesos. The latter denomination was the most frequent, representing 9% of all detected counterfeit currency.
Despite the discouraging news, authorities expect that a blow against counterfeiters last December may have enough impact to reduce their output this year.
A joint operation between the Attorney General’s office and the Federal Police resulted in the arrest of several people allegedly involved in a counterfeiting scheme and the seizure of equipment and supplies.
The Bank of México estimated that the gang could have been responsible of putting into circulation nearly 20% of the fake bills detected in 2015.
Bank official Alejandro Alegre recommended that people check their bills and coins.
“The central bank works continuously on issuing more secure banknotes and informing the general public about the different security elements. These efforts are of little use if users don’t check their notes; they do not realize that they will be the ones to lose out,” he said.
He suggested users can quickly check security elements noticeable by sight and touch in order to determine the authenticity of a paper or plastic bill. All bills have a watermark with an image that can be seen when the bill is backlit, and text, which has a raised feel to it, should be crisp and clear.
Alegre warned users against keeping bills in circulation if they doubt their authenticity, and take them instead to the nearest bank. However, there is a risk in doing so.
If the institution can’t determine the note’s validity it will be sent to the Bank of México, and the user will receive a receipt for its value. If the central bank finds that the note is valid, its value will be reimbursed by the financial institution but if it is determined to be fake, no reimbursement will be made.
Alegre acknowledged that criminal organizations have greater access than ever to advanced technological tools that allow them to reproduce banknotes, although of lower quality, but he also said there now exists better coordination between the federal and state governments to address the crime.
Source: El Universal (sp)