Paper Money

South Korean agency warns of fake $50 Federal Reserve note

This image, provided by the National Intelligence Service on Dec. 27, shows a counterfeit $50 Federal Reserve note.

Images courtesy of National Intelligence Service.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service issued and widely distributed a notice on Dec. 7 about the discovery of dangerous counterfeit U.S. $50 bills, which might be distributed in the country, especially around the time of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

The NIS said that no examples of the counterfeit note were yet found in South Korea, but that it is circulating in other parts of Asia.

An NIS official told the Yonhap news agency, “Chances are high that it will flow into South Korea due to increased demand for foreign currency on the occasion of the Beijing Olympics in February next year.”

The Chinese government is banning all spectators from attending the games; the NIS did not explain the connection between the Olympics and the portended demand for foreign currency.

A photo of a fake bill next to an authentic one was also made public, and NIS called the fake “similar to a so-called supernote in its highly deceptive characteristics.”

“Supernote” refers mainly to a product of a North Korean state-sponsored counterfeiting operation dating back at least to the late 1980s. Although similar high quality notes are also made elsewhere, the U.S. Secret Service estimates that North Korea has produced $45 million worth since 1989.

The supernotes are believed to be the impetus behind the current $100 note, with its three dimensional security ribbon, microprinting, and color-shifting numerals and drawings, which entered circulation in 2013.

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