Counterfeit money scam

Buenos_Aires-counterfeit-money-scamMany tourists in Buenos Aires or other parts of Argentina are unaware of the widespread availability of fake Peso bills in the country. They usually won’t find out until one of their notes is declined as payment in a store, restaurant or coffeeshop. By that time, they likely won’t remember where they got that specific bill as change. Rumors are that taxi drivers are most likely to give counterfeit bills as change, but we’ve also heard stories of tourists getting counterfeit 100 Peso notes from an official ATM at a bank!

As a tourist, unfamiliar with the currency, you won’t easily recognize fake banknotes, especially since they’re made professionally, including some of the security features. We’ve been informed that even the new 100 Peso notes have already been copied, and even feature a watermark this time. Since the counterfeit banknotes are so widespread and basically have become part of the daily routine for local business owners, and they’ll recognize one immediately and will inform you that they won’t accept them. Fortunately, they won’t call the police as is usual in some other countries, but you won’t be able to pay with the note anywhere.

Buenos_Aires-fake-money-scamThere are special markers for sale which can help a tourist identify counterfeit bills, as they will give a very light mark on genuine banknotes, but turn full black on a fake, paper note. Also, and this may surprise you as it opposes the advice this site gives about changing money on the street elsewhere, you won’t be given counterfeit notes when changing at a black-market “cambista”, while you’re still at risk when drawing cash from an ATM or changing at a bank or money change office. Besides that, the rates at the black-market cambistas can be up to 50% better than at a bank (see our black market currency article). Because the black market money changers pay off the police and are basically controlled by them, they’re not allowed to issue counterfeit money, while nobody checks the banks. I know this all sounds very counter-intuitive and it is more than a little strange, but sometimes a corrupt government and a creative black market economy can lead to strange situations.

Fake US Dollar bills

Besides counterfeit 50 Peso and 100 Peso banknotes, also be on guard for fake US Dollar bills. Since Pesos are not accepted to change back into local currencies abroad, tourists who still have some Pesos left at the end of their trip will have to change them back into Dollars, Euros, Pounds or whichever currency they would like. Now, this time we’ll tell you to go to the official money change agents, as they will give you a decent rate and are trustworthy, while the street changers may offer you a better rate, but you’re very likely to be handed counterfeit money. And then you may have a problem with the cops when you try to pay with those notes back home.

Incredible as it may sound, look out for fake Dollar bills in Buenos Aires. Always change your home currency to Pesos at a street changer and change back from Pesos to your home currency at an official money changer. And use a marker to identify counterfeit notes when taking change at a shop, a taxi or even a bank.

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