Fake notes are doing their rounds yet again

When you get your change at the teller make sure that your notes are real.

A woman made two withdrawals at different stores on Monday July 24, little did she know that she was handed a fake bank note.


When placed side by side, the real (below) and fake (above), notes look very similar.

When she went to pay for a purchase at another store the following Tuesday, the cashier there gave her the bad news.

One of her R100 notes was a clear fake, and she didn’t know it.

Read about her story in the Witbank News of August 4.

So how does one identify a fake note?

First off there are two different faces on our South African Reserve Bank notes. The Mandela faced notes better known as Randelas, and the Big Five faced notes – Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard.

The South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) has incorporated a number of security features into the production of our bank notes which, if you have the knowledge of, could save you losing your money thanks to being handed a fake note.

“It is every user’s responsibility to get to know the big-five banknote series and check the security features. There are several security features that are really easy to check with the naked eye. It will only take a second to examine your money,” reads a statement from SARB.


The inverse of the notes is very much the same except for a few differences.

“Do not only check one feature. Check a combination of security features. Do not be embarrassed to check your money and encourage others to do so too.”

Key features to be on the lookout for are:

Watermark –
This is smaller and the denomination numeral is added to the watermark of the main motif.

Perfect registration –
This see-through security feature reveals the denomination numeral in perfect registration on the front and back when the banknote is held up to the light.

Windowed security thread –
On the R50, R100 and R200 banknotes the thread is 4mm wide. ‘SARB’, ‘RAND’ and the denomination numeral appear when the banknote is held up to the light, and a holographic Coat of Arms appears in the thread when tilted. On the R10 and R20 banknotes the thread is 2mm wide and ‘SARB’ and the denomination numeral appear in clear text.

Diamond shapes and the slashes –

One the Big Five notes:

The dots on the front that assist the blind to distinguish between the denominations have been replaced with diamonds: 1 diamond for the R10, 2 diamonds for the R20, 3 diamonds for the R50, 4 diamonds for the R100, and 5 diamonds for the R200.

On the Mandela notes:

On the right and left side of the note there are ridges which assist the blind with distinguishing the denominations, as with the Big Five notes, the number of ridges corresponds to the value of the note.

Unique numbering –
This has moved from the front to the back, a vertical number on the left-hand side and a horizontal number top right. The horizontal number is conical.

Micro lettering –
‘SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK’ appears in micro lettering to the right of the animal’s ear. The micro lettering is printed in positive and negative text.

Iridescent band –
This is a very prominent feature in a gold colour on the back of all banknotes. When tilted, the Coat of Arms and the denomination numeral appear.

Different geometric shapes –
These have been added to the front of the banknotes as an aid for the partially sighted: diamond on the R10, square on the R20, circle on the R50, and different hexagons on the R100 and R200.

Latent image –
When the banknote is held almost horizontally at eye level, the denomination numeral appears inside the geometric shapes.

Optically variable ink –
On the R50, R100 and R200 banknotes the denomination numeral on the front bottom right is printed in colour-changing ink. When the R50 and R100 banknotes are tilted, the colour changes from green to gold. On the R200 it changes from magenta to green.

Denomination numerals –
These are more prominent on both the front and back of the banknotes.

Raised printing –
Compared to fake bank notes, legitimate bank notes are printed in layers, which can be felt if you run your fingertips across the note, where as a fake bank note will feel flat without any raised print.

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  AUTHOR
Trevor Aingworth
JOURNALIST/PHOTOGRAPHER

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