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Here’s How To Tell A Real AR $500 Bill From A Counterfeit

By | [email protected] | July 12, 2016 1:00pm


It hasn’t even been two weeks since the new AR $500 bill went into circulation but, as widely reported by local press and alarmed social media posts, counterfeit bills have already sprung up. The fake notes floating around are apparently of high quality, however, the Central Bank (BCRA) has released advice on how to determine if you’re the owner of real Argentine pesos or wannabes.

If you’re not familiar with the the new bill, it features a jaguar, the first of many animals to take residence in our wallets in a move spearheaded by the Macri administration to change bills’ designs from historical figures to quadrupeds and fish.

According to the BCRA, our new favorite jaguar has plenty of tells that distinguish it from its unworthy impostor. Among those is a different paper and less defined printing.

The upper bill is a phony and the lower is the real AR0. Photo via iProfessional

The upper bill is a phony and the lower is the real AR$500. Photo via iProfessional

Here are the security measures the BCRA has released to help identify the real AR $500 notes. Memorize these and perhaps you too could help catch Argentina’s modern-day Frank Abignale Jr.

  • The Water Mark: When held up against the light, you’ll see the image of the jaguar and the number 500 lightly molded into the paper.
  • The Security Film: The three strips change color from green to blue in the light and when they’re illuminated you can also see “500 BCRA” printed on them.
  • Jaguar’s Footprint: You can see this paw on the front and the back.
  • Intaglio Printing: The jaguar, text, numbers and silhouette of the Jaguar are incised into the surface.
  • Latent Image: This Jaguar has a tattoo. When the bill is held under light the initials “RA” appear in its silhouette.
  • Optical Variable Ink: “500 FIVE HUNDRED PESOS” changes color from green to blue when the bill is tilted.
  • Tangible Clues: The code below the silhouette of the animal and the Roman numeral value “D” can be felt so even those with reduced visual abilities can tell the real bills apart.
  • Really Small Letters: At the bottom of the jaguar silhouette the text “$500BCRA500BCRA” is repeated. In addition, the acronym “BCRA” is printed within the value “500.” It’s unlikely that you carry a magnifying glass around with you but for those doing hard investigation, this is a good tell.

We’ll be introduced to many new bills over the next year including an AR $200 bill graced with a Southern Right Whale and a guanaco in place of Juan Manuel de la Rosas on the AR $20 note. Hopefully their introduction won’t be followed by more counterfeit bills but if so we’ll have already brushed up our FBI skills.