Most of the people think detecting counterfeit money using technological devices is done only at banks. However this is no longer true. As you can see from the photos here, today even normal retail shops in Sri Lanka have started to use technological devices known as counterfeit money detectors to detect fake money. I managed to take these photos of one such device for Sri Lanka News Online at a mobile phone selling shop in Ratnapura area.
This first photo shows the counterfeit detector used at that mobile phone shop. It is actually a very simple device. Primarily it has a surface on which to place the bank note you want to check/detect. Under the surface you got bulbs that emit normal light and ultra-violet light. Once you place a Sri Lanka bank note, US dollar bill or any currency note on the surface, it has the ability to highlight and show hidden watermarks using either the normal white light or the ultra-violet light.
Here in this second photo you can see how a Sri Lanka 2000 Rupee looks like when I kept it on that money detector and switched on the Ultra-violet light. With the help of the blueish ultra violet light you can see some beautiful hidden watermarks and designs in the 2000 rupee note. Some of these designs are visible only when you pass ultra violet light through the note. Counterfeit bank notes don’t have these kind of ultra-violet light watermarks. The retail shop-men who have counterfeit detectors know what ultra-violet light watermarks to look for in different denomination of bank notes. So today they easily identify fake money.
This third photo shows how the same Sri Lankan 2000 Rupee bank note looks like when it is kept on the detector and the normal white light is switched on. Even with this normal light a trained eye can detect several minute details in bank notes that are hard to be counterfeited in bogus money.
Counterfeit money detectors like these are now commonly used by Sri Lanka retail shops and businesses, specially those that handle a lot of bank notes with high value. In fact today retail shops that deposit their money at the end of the day at a bank are forced to use such counterfeit money detector devices. That is because when counterfeit bank notes are detected at Sri Lanka banks they are required to destroy them. So to not risk losing their money when depositing at banks, retail business owners today try to ensure they don’t accept any counterfeit money from customers. They do this by passing all the notes they get through a counterfeit money detector like this. Examples of normal retail shops in Sri Lanka that use this kind of devices in include gold jewellery stores, gem shops and wholesale merchandise shops.
In this picture here you see a 20 rupee Sri Lanka bank note I placed on the money detector when the ultra violet light is on. According to what the shop businessman told me he identifies fake 20 rupee notes by the “20″ mark visible slightly to the left in the center of the note. That “20″ is only visible in ultra-violet light.
Another reason counterfeit detectors are increasing being used is the recent advances in printing technology and its easy availability. Today making fake or counterfeit money has become very easy. To make a passable copy of a Sri Lanka bank note all you need is a computer, a image editing software like Photoshop, a colour printer, a scanner and some quality paper. But counterfeit money made like this though sometimes are clever copies of the original, can be identified in several ways including those mentioned above.
But more than 99% of the people don’t take more than a cursory glance at the bank notes that pass through their hands. So unless we are careful, counterfeiters manage to trick us by slipping in one or two counterfeit bank notes along with several genuine notes and manage to pass them among the general public. This has resulted in lot of counterfeit money circulating among the general population of Sri Lanka. However the Government and the Central bank tries to catch such fake money and destroy them by requiring banks and financial institutions to pass all the bank notes they get through devices like these that have the ability to detect counterfeit money.