Explainer: How to detect fake currency notes

Monday September 09 2019

Some of the fake new currency notes that were seized by police in Murang'a on July 16, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


With only three weeks remaining to submit the old Sh1000 currency notes, chances are high that occurrences of fake currency may arise.

 To avoid being duped, it is important to be careful and identify signs of original notes as well as some of the features that fake ones might have.

 Despite its upgraded security features, officials have raised concern over the increased seizure of fake notes in Sh500 and Sh1000 bills.

 These fake currency notes mostly target mobile money agents such as M-Pesa shops and bank agents.

 Here are some features you might find in fake notes:

No lion watermark feature: When held up to the light, the three-dimensional portrait watermark of the lion’s face on the left side of the note cannot be clearly seen. If you cannot see a clear picture of the lion’s face that currency is not genuine.


No CBK initials: Similarly, fake notes do not have the CBK initials and the numerical value of the currency along the silver inter-woven security thread. In most cases, the thread in fake notes is almost silver in colour but is not inter-woven nor do they have the CBK initials on them.

Also, the thread in fake notes does not change colour when held up in different angles against the light.

 It is important to note that the thread on genuine notes shows a series of text that feature the denomination of the numeral note, the letters CBK and a picture of a dove throughout the strip. The security thread also changes colour from red to green on all banknotes. The Sh200, Sh500 and Sh1000 banknotes have additional rainbow colours on the thread.

 No glow under UV light: Fake currency notes, specifically for the new generation notes, do not glow under UV or neon light. Genuine notes have a watermark of the value of the currency that is visible under UV or neon light. Fake notes do not have this feature.

 Touch and feel: The feel and texture of fake notes is different from the genuine ones. Kenya Bankers Association CEO Habil Olaka says an important feature in distinguishing genuine and fake notes is the feel of the notes. Genuine notes are made of a fine linen, which is a type of cloth.

 Mr. Olaka says that fake notes use normal kind of paper that does not have the same feel and look as genuine notes. For example, fake notes tear easily, they do not feel as rough as genuine notes and may be slippery.

Fade in colour: Unlike genuine notes, fake notes fade colour when they are in contact with water. The note may also be soggy and may even start ripping and rubbing off material.

Not similar in appearance. Features in fake currency in most cases do not match other genuine notes. For example, the positioning of different elements on the note such as the KICC building or the words written on the note may not be in the same exact position as other notes.

Minor details are off: Take note of minor details such as spellings on the notes, the signature of the CBK Governor, and the coat of arms both at the back and front of the notes. For example, the new currency is written ‘Banki Kuu Ya Kenya’ and not ‘Benki Kuu ya Kenya’.

With these identifiers, you can be able to authenticate and distinguish between fake and genuine currency. In the event you come across a fake currency or are in suspicion of fake currency, take them to the bank for verification.