Fake $US100 bills

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    Fake $100 bills fool banks and customers
    Clare O'Dea

    CURRENCY: The US dollar is the most widely accepted currency in the world - in many countries favoured over the local currency because of its seemingly unshakeable value.

    Why is it then that a reader had such difficulty recently trying to exchange a $100 bill (worth €113) at his local bank branch? Well, it's because there is an ongoing worldwide problem with a highly-sophisticated forgery of the $100 bill, known as the "super dollar".

    Irish banks will only exchange $100 bills for existing customers after special checking procedures have been conducted. A Bank of Ireland spokeswoman said that when customers present US $100 bills, the notes must be sent to a cash centre to be examined by specially trained staff. The money does not re-enter the system until it has been properly checked, she said.

    Last summer, six people were arrested in connection with the possession of counterfeit American dollars, which they innocently obtained from an AIB bank branch in Galway city. Gardaí believed a man had exchanged $1,800 worth of similar notes for pounds at a Galway branch in June. The notes then passed through the bank's normal transfer system.

    The issue first came to light when a car salesman from Galway was detained by the authorities in China after he was found in possession of forged notes.

    AIB and Bank of Ireland have adopted the same policy. The banks now check $100 notes after they are lodged and if the bills turn out to be counterfeit, the money is deducted from the customer's account, like a bounced cheque.

    The US is leading an international investigation into the "super dollar", as the dud notes continue to crop up in different locations around the world.

    Earlier this month, The Jakarta Post reported that police had detained two people who allegedly had in their possession materials to produce some $5 billion in counterfeit dollar notes.

    A detective working on the case said the counterfeit notes were of such high quality that they were able to elude the detection of the portable ultra-violet money detectors commonly used by money-changers and financial establishments in Bali.

    Also this month, Belarussian television reported that the Minsk anti-corruption and organised crime committee had raided an apartment in the city and found several packages of forged notes in an extractor fan in the kitchen. In total, 75 $100 notes were found in the flat.

    An investigation later revealed that all the money was counterfeit, but produced to a high technical standard. Watermarks, a protective strip and the paper quality were almost identical to those found in original notes.

    The notes are prone to showing up almost anywhere. A few days later, 657 false banknotes were seized from a group of people in Baku, Azerbaijan. The men were selling the $100 notes for $30.

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