Converting Counterfeit

Fake Kenyan Shilling notes displayed on the wall of an M-Pesa cash merchant

Cash merchants provide a unique and excellent opportunity for counterfeiters to convert fake money into real cash.  While grocers and retail clerks have to remain on the watch for counterfeit currency, cash merchants must remain even more vigilant – imagine, as a counterfeiter, that instead of buying goods with fake money, you could instead buy real money.  In essence that is what occurs at a cash merchant – you hand over money (real or fake) and immediately it is replaced with electronic money of equal value; you can then go to a cash merchant later and withdraw it into real cash.

I saw these fake notes at an M-Pesa cash merchant recently – they were high quality, I certainly couldn’t tell that they were fake!

It was interesting to see that people would go to the expense and work of counterfeiting 200 Kenyan Shilling notes – that’s roughly the equivalent of USD $2 at current exchange rates.  That’s quite the contrast to the US where I understood $100 and $20 bills were the most counterfeited.

I wonder if the cash merchant networks train their staff on how to identify counterfeit notes – or,  is that left entirely to the cash merchant?

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