Counterfeit cash: How to check if your RMB is the real deal

Culture | by Aimee Groom
Posted: July 23rd, 2010 | Updated: June 20th, 2011 | Comments
RMB 100 Note counterfeit money in ChinaChina is well known as one of the counterfeit capitals of the world, with knock-off versions of just about everything readily available on any street corner. From designer gear to DVDs, from booze to smokes, sometimes you know what you're buying, sometimes you don't—and that means that every transaction should be undertaken with a wary eye. But whether you're okay buying fakes or not, it won't matter much if the money in your hand is not the Real McCoy. And like the rest of the fakes industry, China's counterfeit cash market is always booming. Just last month, police in Hunan announced news of the Guangdong market. To make sure no dodgy red-backs make their way into your pocket, we're re-posting a very handy guide from Michael de Waal-Montgomery's blog about his life as a Mandarin student in Beijing, VPN or proxy in China): 6 tips to identify fake RMB notes
Paper quality
Take the bill the long way up and kind of ruffle it in your hands. The sound should be clear and distinct. If fake, the sound is muffled and the paper seems crisp.
Water Mark
There are two things to see in the light. If you hold the bill up you will see on the left side in the white space, there is a clear picture of Chairman Mao's face. On the fake bills, the outline of his face is blurred. Below the 100-number in the center of the note, there is a red and blue symbol inside a red circle with the red and blue sections on either side of the note. In the real bills, the red and blue boundaries in the symbol are very distinct. They are perfectly aligned, or else they overlap just very very slightly. In the fake bills the symbol is distorted. The red and blue sections are not aligned, one is usually a little higher than the other and often there is either a white space between their boundaries or they overlap unevenly. This is the easiest identifying mark of these bills.
Color Change
Below the white space, there is a green 100 (or 50 on the 50 bill, 20 on the 20 bill etc.) sign in the left corner. When looking flat at this sign, it is green. When the bill is tilted upwards, and you are looking at the sign from the bottom up the 100 turns brown. This is a real bill. But if when you tilt the bill upwards the symbol is only dark green, then this is a fake bill. This difference is slight and is easily seen if you have a real bill next to the fake bill.
The texture of the picture of Chairman Mao
Hold the bill in your hand and rub your thumb gently against the collar on the big picture of Chairman Mao. You will notice a difference in texture on his collar. You will only feel it if you rub gently. If the paper is completely smooth, without any texture, you are holding a counterfeit! (Editor's note: another thing you can do here is rub Mao's face on a piece of white paper and if real, it will leave behind a slight red mark)
The difference of "100"
On the top right hand corner, there is a 100 sign. Just overlapping a little below the 100, there is an oval design. If you turn this design up, so you are looking up from the bottom, then place it so that light shines on it, you will see a very faint "100" on the oval. It is just slightly raised, this is a real bill. In the fakes, the 100 is either not there, or is very difficult to see.
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