Counterfeit money in circulation

Counterfeit Cayman Islands currency notes continue to surface and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are urging the public to remain vigilant.

Over the last few weeks several counterfeit notes, mainly CI$50 notes, have been turned over to the RCIPS’ Financial Crime Unit.

‘Counterfeit notes continue to circulate in the Cayman Islands and we urge people not to let their guard down but keep looking out for them,’ said Detective Sergeant Michael Montaque of the Financial Crime Unit. ‘I’m particularly asking the business community to pay close attention to notes they receive.’

He gave some advice on what to do with forged notes.

‘In the event that you receive a counterfeit note, or suspect one to be counterfeit, we ask that you observe and note the appearance of the person passing the note, as well as that of any companions. Do not return the note to the passer. Instead, tag the note with a copy of the transaction receipt and call the police. If you have counterfeit report forms issued by the Financial Crime Unit, obtain as much information as possible from the person passing the note and write it on the form.’

Sgt. Montaque said sometimes people who are unsure whether a note is counterfeit go ahead and deposit the note with the bank.

‘Unfortunately, once it has been mixed with other notes it loses its evidential quality. We therefore ask that any suspect notes be tagged with the transaction receipt, placed in a protective covering such as an envelope and set aside for verification by the Financial Crime Unit.’

Sgt. Montaque added that successful detection and prosecution in counterfeit currency cases is largely due to the public’s vigilance.

CIMA is reminding people of the features of genuine Cayman Islands currency notes to assist them in distinguishing genuine notes from counterfeit ones.

All genuine CI notes bear a watermark in the form of a turtle, which can be seen when the note is held up to the light. The watermark on the C series notes also includes the letters ‘CIMA’ above the turtle. You should be aware; however, that some counterfeit notes have the watermark so you should not rely only on this feature to determine if the bill is genuine.

Each C series banknote has a metallic thread running through the note from top to bottom. The thread is imprinted with the words ‘Cayman Islands.’ In counterfeit notes the thread, if it appears, usually looks transparent or white instead of metallic, and sometimes has a grey shadow alongside it.

Each $50 C series note has a silver foil imprint of a stingray on the edge of the note, to the right of the portrait of Her Majesty the Queen. On counterfeit notes, the imprint usually loses the silver colour and appears a flat grey.

Genuine $100 notes carry a shimmery, silver-coloured mark (called a hologram) in the shape of a Cayman schooner. This mark changes colour when the note is tilted. On most counterfeit notes, this feature appears a flat bluish-grey.

The serial number on each banknote is different. When receiving notes, you should therefore examine the serial number for any signs of tampering.

You should also pay attention to the feel of the paper on which notes are printed. Genuine notes are printed on special paper that has a rough texture. Counterfeit notes have a smooth texture and will smudge when exposed to water.

Pay attention to notes of all denominations – from one-dollar bills upwards.

The Monetary Authority advises the public that it is not able to compensate persons who come in possession of counterfeit notes. This makes it even more important for the public to be vigilant when handling currency notes.

The RCIPS form for reporting counterfeit money can be found on the CIMA website, under ‘Currency.’