Counterfeit? You’ve Gotta Be Kidding!

Yes, all kinds of strange things can happen when you travel, but this was a first. Returning from a trip, I had a couple $10 bills but no singles. Well, a quick trip to the bank will fix that. Or so I thought…

The conversation went something like this:

ME: I would like to change these $10 bills into singles.

BANK: (examining the bills) Sorry, this one is counterfeit.

ME: You gotta be kidding.  Where would I get a counterfeit bill?

BANK: I was hoping you could tell me.

ME: (thinking back to my last travels) It could have been any of a half dozen places. I really don’t know.

BANK: Sorry about that, but we will be keeping this bill. You will get a receipt.

ME: But that’s my money.  Give it back.

BANK: No, it now belongs to the Secret Service. We send all counterfeit bills to them.

ME: Okay, keep it. Just give me a good one.

BANK: Sorry, no can do. This is your loss, not ours.

CounterfeitTurns out this is true. The $10 bill looked perfect to me until I was showed what a non-counterfeit note looked like next to it. I was extremely surprised by the small denomination. After all, it must take just as long to make a fake $10 bill as it does for a $50 or $100. But the bank said that counterfeiting happens for all bills, even singles.

I tried to think back to where it might have come from. Was it that quick run into the drugstore? Maybe it was that oh-so-necessary stop at Starbucks. Or was it from one of the taxi drivers? Arrr, I just wasn’t sure.

So how can you protect yourself when traveling, short of taking a course in recognizing counterfeit currency? One protection is only use credit/debit cards instead of cash. Unfortunately that is not always possible. Modestly expensive lesson learned, now I find myself examining all bills I receive before placing them in my wallet. No, I am not an expert but if I find Mickey Mouse’s face on a fiver, it’s a good bet the bank will take that bill from me, too.

Well, at least I can be happy no one put illegal drugs in my bags.  Got a feeling that would have cost me a lot more than ten dollars.


  1. That is a shame! I recently got a counterfeit 20 euro bill here in Greece – FROM AN ATM! I asked a friend what I was supposed to do and he just shrugged his shoulders and said to pass it on. There are a ton of them around here and they just go from person to person now. Better off that the US Secret Service takes counterfeit US money instead of letting it roam free! 🙂

  2. My wife was in China and a vendor took her money that she had just gotten from the bank and then handed it back and said it was fake. Later on, after thinking about the whole transaction, she realized he had swapped the good bank money out for the counterfeit.

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