Fake zloty – an adventure in misunderstanding

About 9 months ago I had an encounter with some fake złoty that could have cost me . It had been a nice summers day, and I was walking home at about 8pm past a few local shops that had closed for the evening, not long after moving to Poland. Suddenly, I spotted an interesting looking piece of paper on the ground.  To my surprise and delight, it appeared to be a 100 złotych note. The street was deserted, so there was no-one nearby that I could ask, in case they had dropped it. And with the shops nearby being closed, it was the same story there. Believing that it was ‘safe’ to claim it, I placed it in my wallet and continued home. I was obviously happy with the find, but thought nothing more of it for a while.

A few days later, my wife and I went to a local dry-cleaners to have a jacket cleaned. When the time came to pay, I produced my ‘lucky’ 100 PLN note. The cashier looked at it for a second, and then her eyes closed at little with suspicion. She opened the cash till and took out another 100 złotych note in order to compare them. After about 5 seconds of analysis, she decided that she could not accept my note. She thought that it looked dodgy . My wife had some other cash available instead, and offered to pay quickly. The cashier was satisfied that was fine, and we proceeded to finish the transaction. But understandably, it left me feeling both confused and disappointed that my lucky find was not for real.

Cash TillMoney, Money, Money

Later I took  a real 100zl from the ATM in order to compare. The fake was the right size and shape. It was creased in parts, meaning that it had the look of wear-and-tear of a normal note. The print ‘quality’ of the images and text and numbers on the note were very good also. However, the key difference was in the colouring. The real 100 złotych note is pale green in colour. The shade of green on the counterfeit version was a deeper, darker green with a touch of blue also. This was much more noticeable when the two sat side by side. Also, when checked under light it was not possible to see the watermark on the counterfeit note. The watermark is the most difficult thing to copy on official money, showing us that our 100 złotych was indeed fake. It was a bit of a disappointment indeed. We did see the light side of things though and it is now taking pride of place in our kitchen, held in place by a fridge magnet.

However, a Polish friend visited a few days ago and he spotted the note.  I explained the story to him and he said that we were in fact very lucky. He informed us that the cashier would have been ‘correct’ to possibly call the police to have us arrested for using counterfeit money. It could have been taken quite seriously. 

So, I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes it can just be ‘too good to be true’.

100zl_front

Can you spot the difference(s)?

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12 thoughts on “Fake zloty – an adventure in misunderstanding

  1. Gabriela says:

    Here in Perú, the stores use keep the note, they put a huge stamp on it that reads FALSE and they exhibit it so every costumer can see it.
    To you, the bright side is you found the note on the ground, so it wasn’t a real loss to you.
    Saludos.

  2. Name says:

    I just saw a Dateline show on TV tonight about a counterfeiter who would “wash (literally laundering) a $5 bill of its ink with something from the garage and then somehow print with a dot-matrix printer the new ink onto it, producing a $100 bill. Of course, they left out most of the details. He was introducing this money into stores and it was getting sifted into casinos who were then paying it out into the population. He was so proud of himself that he told the whole story to undercover cops who taped the whole thing.

  3. Grze$ko says:

    This just proves the importance of colour management in any DTP work. You must calibrate your screen to your printer to avoid blunders like that…
    I wonder if there is an “Stówka” ICC profile?
    ;-)

  4. bob says:

    ROFL – Also proves the concept of there being ‘no free lunch’ – be careful about somebody saying they have €62 million in the bank in Africa and need some help getting it out and you will get 20% for helping

  5. Decoy says:

    20%? I wouldn’t get out of bed for anything less than 40%

  6. zarazek says:

    Whose silly idea was it in the first place to have all notes the same size?

  7. Hugo says:

    You should still report it to the police, they keep track of counterfeit money and are interested in new techniques. Perhaps this was part of a batch and the location where it was found could provide some extra insight for the police.

  8. Jeannie says:

    zarazek, so true, so true!

  9. Filip says:

    This was probably a sick joke. The note was printed and left to find a fool who would be happy to use it! :)

  10. Decoy says:

    Well, I fell for it, once anyways.

    At least now for me, it’ll be “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me”.

  11. Name says:

    Hi there,

    i am from South Africa, and recieved a R10 note from a legitimate shop as change after purchases there. I later used that samje R10 to make a purchse at the airport and was told that the money was fake. Seems there are lots of crooks out there-

  12. Name says:

    I agree,

    You should report it to the police- it could be that the money printing factory is just up your street.

    Do you civic duty and report it.

    S C
    Zimbabwe

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