Watch Out for False Bills; They Can Ruin Your Stay

How to Tell a Good 200/S Bill

In the City of Cusco, just like in other cities of the country and in most parts of the world, there are grifters who fill their pockets by fooling clients and workers in the different businesses of the city by giving them false bills in exchange for real ones.

Merchants, workers, and owners, all, run the risk of being swindled with false bills and coins that counterfeiters have put in circulation in the different fairs that are carried out during the year.

The counterfeiters and their minions enter into the fairs as if they were clients. They walk around talking to vendors and asking about merchandise. When they see a chance, they come up and begin to bargain, pressuring the vendor to give them discounts, and trying to complete a sale quickly. No one is completely safe from this swindle. For that reason everyone must be careful to make sure the dollars and soles they receive are real, especially in moments of hurry or pressure.

At night, when the nocturnal life of the city begins, these falsifiers take advantage to put into circulation their counterfeit bills in the discotheques, bars, Liquor stores, and other business that are open at that hour.

On weekends, people go out to have fun and the areas of nightlife fill. In some places you will see examples of false bills along with a sign that says any counterfeit bill will be seized and destroyed. Even so, when a false bill appears, many workers will hurry and pass it on to someone else. Many times they do not realize they are committing a crime against the financial and monetary order of the country that is punishable by law.

How to Distinguish a Good 100/S Bill
How to Distinguish a Good 100/S Bill

Some recommendations for visitors and also for Peruvians who work hard to get their businesses to take off: Be careful whenever you receive or hand out bills that they are legitimate.

There are seven key ways to recognize counterfeit currency.

  1. Pay attention to the paper. Legitimate currency tends to have a different teture and higher cotton content. It is softer than falsified bills.
  2. Look for the watermark contained by legitimate bills. It should be clean and visible when held to the light.
  3. The color of the bills denomination changes from fuchsia to green depending on the angle and light.
  4. Look for the thread in the case of denominations of 10, 20, and 50 soles. The text should appear clearly defined. In the 100 and 200 soles bills, if you turn them lightly, in the thread appear figures of fish who move from right to left and from top to bottom.
  5. On some spots of legitimate bills you will find engravings in high relief that you can feel with your fingers or you can feel by lightly scratching the bill.
  6. On the lower part of the personage represented on the bill you can see the bills denomination. The easiest way to see it is by raising the bill to the height of your eyes.
  7. The series number of the bills also permit telling if they are false. It is wise to remember, or better, write down the series number of a bill when you hand it over so that it is easier to tell if you are returned a different bill, should the sale fail.

Whenever you pay or receive money you must pay attention to these details. If necessary, it does not hurt to keep track of the series of you bills, no matter their value. There have been many cases in which clients give a legitimate bill in payment only to have a counterfeit bill returned to them and be told they are paying with false currency. The bills are switched if you are not paying careful attention. Should that happen and you have no proof, such as knowing the series number of the bill you gave, there is nothing you can do and you may have your night or day ruined, though you have made the day of a grafter.

We constantly hear in the media in Peru about the capture of counterfeiters. The police of the DIVICRI Division are responsible for arresting people who live by swindling others.

The thieves are very detail oriented in creating their false bills. They always attempt to make them look more real and even better than those of the Central Bank of Peru. Be careful or they will fool you to your loss.


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