Fake money is a problem in Peru. Counterfeit banknotes and coins are a common irritation, so you need to be on your guard when dealing with both Peruvian currency (the nuevo sol) and the dollar. Try to get into the habit of always checking the money you receive, and use the following guidelines for identifying counterfeit money in Peru.
Peruvian Nuevo Sol Security Features
Genuine nuevo sol banknotes have a number of security features:
- Watermark – You can see the watermark when you hold the banknote up to a source of light. The image itself appears in light and dark shades created by density variations in the paper. Each nuevo sol note uses the face of its principal character as the watermark (for example, the face of Jorge Basadre Grohmann appears on the S/.100).
- Security thread – Each banknote has a security thread running from top to bottom, slightly offset from center. Along the length of the thread, you will see “Peru” and the denomination of the note. The holographic threads used on the 50 and 100 notes feature additional images (fighting cocks on the 50, map of Peru on the 100).
- Circular mark – Each note includes a circle (the Registro Perfecto) that aligns perfectly on front and back. The image design is different on each side, but forms a complete design when held against a source of light.
- Latent image – On the front of each note is a colored box (near the bottom left-hand corner). Raise the note to your eye and tilt it horizontally; you should see the note’s value appear in the box.
- Micro impressions – On the front of each note (bottom left-hand corner) you will see the note’s denomination. The numbers are filled with micro impressions of the word “Peru”. The same micro impressions surround the head of each character (for example, you will see “Peru” written repeatedly around the head of Jorge Basadre Grohmann). There is a third micro impression beneath “Banco Central de Reserva del Peru”; it looks like a line, but is actually a repetition of the title.
- Color-shifting ink – Beneath the national shield on the font of each note (right side) is the note’s denomination. This figure is printed in color-shifting ink. Rotate the note and you will see the color change, with variations of purple, gold and green.
Have a look at this Banco Central guide to the security features on the S/. 100 note for more details (in Spanish, but with images).
Identifying Fake Banknotes in Peru
Knowing what security features to look for will help you identify fake money in Peru. The Banco Central de Reserva del Peru offers further advice in its “Toque, mire y gire” (touch, look and turn) identification guide. Here is an overview in English:
- Touch – The cotton-based paper used to make the nuevo sol has a distinctive texture and strength not generally found in fakes. Familiarizing yourself with the feel of the genuine article will help you identify a fake through touch. Notes also use relief printing, so they should not be completely smooth. Run your finger along the “Banco Central de Reserva del Peru” print; you should feel a slightly raised pattern.
- Look – Look for the security features noted above. The watermark is one of the easiest things to check. It should have a multi-tone and three-dimensional quality. The watermark (the famous figure’s face) may appear on a counterfeit, but it is unlikely to have the definition found in the genuine article.
- Turn – Raise the note to eye level and turn it on its axis. Pay attention to the relevant security features noted above: the color-shifting ink and the latent image.
Note: the age of a Peruvian banknote plays a big part in its initial appearance. New notes may look suspiciously crisp and smooth, while the security features on ragged old notes may not be so evident. Bear this in mind when checking a note’s authenticity.
Counterfeit Peruvian Coins
Peruvian coins have not escaped the attention of counterfeiters. However, most fake coins lack the detail found in the genuine article. There are a few key areas to look at when trying to determine a coin’s authenticity.
One side of each coin is stamped with the Peruvian national shield. Inside the top-left of the shield is a vicuña, and below it is a cornucopia with coins spilling from it. Look at the horizontal lines behind the vicuña and the vertical lines behind the cornucopia. They should be straight, evenly spaced and parallel. The coins spilling from the cornucopia should also be well defined. Small deformities will occur through wear and tear and minor minting imperfections, but any major defect would signal a fake (the image to the right is a genuine one sol coin).
Two and five sol coins have “Nuevos Soles” inscribed on one side. The text should be clear, precise and free from defects. Above this lettering is the actual number (2 or 5), within which you should see a tiny logo. It is located above the foot of the 2 and within the circular half of the 5. Again, this logo should be precise despite its small size.
For more information (in Spanish) with images, have a look at the Policia Naconal de Peru website.
Fake Dollars in Peru
You guessed it… fake dollars are also a problem in Peru. Counterfeit dollars made in Peru have also had a major impact internationally. In September 2009, Josh Meyer of the Los Angeles Times reported:
- “Over the last year, authorities and banks have recovered at least $7.8 million in fake notes across the United States that they believe were manufactured in Peru, according to Secret Service statistics.”
That obviously points to some huge counterfeiting operations in Peru, and a flood of fake dollars within the country itself. For identifying counterfeit dollars, I shall leave you in the capable hands of the United States Secret Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing.