Counterfeit bills in Buenos Aires

May 2nd, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Counterfeit bills in Buenos Aires

'Just a gentle reminder how pervasive is the problem of counterfeit bills in Argentina. My husband was in Buenos Aires on business recently when he got counterfeit bills out of an ATM! He did not notice at first because we usually assume that ATM's can be trusted -- but noooooooo, not in Argentina! My husband has been to BA a few times before and did not have a problem with counterfeits, but who would have suspected that even the banking industry seems not to try to stop this problem?

The bills definitely came from an ATM as he discovered the problem early in the trip, where the denominations could only have come from the ATM, not from any other transactions. Complaining to the bank would probably have been fruitless since it was a weekend transaction, and they probably would have claimed that the bills came from elsewhere.
madameX is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 01:54 PM
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That's interesting. I think I have read about this before as well. I wonder if the problem is serious and pervasive enough to make currency exchange (at a legitimate operation) a better bet than ATMs? I wouldn't ordinarily think so, but the various fees, plus this risk of counterfeit bills, makes me wonder. Did he go to a well-known multinational bank ATM?
WillTravel is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 08:22 AM
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I was in Buenos Aires recently (14 April until 25April 2010). An acquaintance of mine received a counterfeit $100 peso bill from a bank teller. He found out about the phony bill after a waiter had returned it to him. In his tenancious state and disgust, he went back to the bank to discuss the situation and to obtain a valid bill; his efforts were futile.

An expat guide whom I hired and with whom I was indeed impressed with his expertise as well as his knowledge of this culture and history told me to hold up large bills $50s and $100s to check to see if they possess the necessary image on the left side as well as the metallic strip.

(I know this can't be done if bills come from an ATM, but I also think that if you were to go into a bank after a recent withdrawal that NOTHING would be done to rectify the situation.)

I withdrew some of my pesos from a reputable bank facility:Citibank which was also linked with another bank of which was unknown to me.

(Before I left for BsAs-- I purchased pesos from a firm in the States; I did not care about the fee because I wanted funds before I arrived; I also did not want to get pesos from ATMs or currency exchange in the airport. It just made for less of a worry for me personally!)
Eddwarm is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 07:07 PM
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I am amazed. Never had happened to me. I have gotten once a $20 counterfeit bill from a taxi thus I learnt never to pay them with big bills.
I have to tell a true opposite story from Montevideo , a friend went to the ATM at took 2.000 pesos which amounts to $100 hundred dollars more or less, she went immediately to a well knows super market called Tienda Inglesa in Carrasco, when she was ready to pay her money
was not in her purse. Surely there was a pickpocketer in the store. So she went to the Manager and explained what happened. They took her data and told her they were going to check. Surely enough next day they called her and return her the 2.000 pesos. They have checked the cameras and indeed there was a woman near the deli who had stolen her money.
I thought this was an amazing story .- The opposite indeed of the Buenos Aires bank, don't you think.>?
Graziella5b is offline  
May 4th, 2010, 09:03 AM
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Hi, Graziella5b!

I don't think very highly of BA banks. In fact, I believe banks all over the world are mostly parasites and white-collared thieves.

However, I believe the situations cannot be compared.

The BA bank probably could not be absolutely sure madameX's DH had been given fake bills from their ATM.

However, Tienda Inglesa's cameras must have recorded a pickpocketer stealing from your friend within their premises and felt they were to blame, which is certainly a good reason to shop there.

Let's try to meet on your next trip to BA.
avrooster is offline  
May 26th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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I just got back from BA May 24th and got counterfeit money from a money exchange place in Recoleta. They clearly have a scam going. After talking to several people in stores it appears this is a very big problem and very widespread including banks.
maryg60 is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 05:16 AM
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Careful lots of scams.Counterfeit money is abundant and distributed everywhere, even at supposedly safe places like tourist information offices. Generally larger bills will be forged, but it is possible to encounter dud $2 bills and even monedas that are fake (you’ll know because the bus will reject them). Counterfeit bills feel papery and don’t have the more flexible, textured feel of real money (think American money versus paper). Pictures seem slightly blurred or smudged on fake money; real money has crisp details. Holding it up to the light to look for watermarks can be a sign, but some fakes have watermarks and the shiny thread running through the “fiber.”

The best way to tell is to look at the hair of the Argentine luminary featured on the bill. If individual hairs are visible it’s real; if the hair is a solid color with little or no definition, it’s fake. A popular ploy for passing counterfeit money occurs when you attempt to pay a taxi with $50 or $100 pesos. The driver will take the bill to the front passenger seat, ostensibly to look for change. Then, the drive will turn around with a sad expression and say, “I’m so sorry, this is a fake.” Of course, a sly switch will have been made with a fake bill the driver had on the front seat.

Always change at big multi-national banks and

inspect carefully prior to accepting.
qwovadis is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 07:17 PM
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My counterfeit 100's came straight from the big multi-national HSBC bank ATM at the EZE international airport. Sorry to say it, but apparently everyone is suspect. If you need a cash advance, go INTO the bank, and inspect every bill.

I passed at least five of these photocopied 100s before I was told what was wrong. I asked my hotel how to identify the real ones and they showed me. Another giveaway, at least on the 100s, is the number "100". It's shiny on the real thing, iridescent even, but on the copy, it just looks sort of wavy.

Frustrating for me, and either a loss of money that I can ill-afford, or a choice of becoming part of the criminal counterfeit passing scheme. Not how I wanted to remember Argentina, really.

I am writing to HSBC to tell them they should be ashamed for allowing this to happen at their ATM.
JenniferS411 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 09:08 AM
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Jennifer, thanks for the warning. How much counterfeit money did you get in total?
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 05:25 PM
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I am traveling soon to Buenos Aires and frankly I am begining to feel badly, for all of those who have been cheated and because I cannot imagine what the remedy is?
Who likes to get inside banks to deal with cash when security is an issue?
I usually get my local currency from ATMs machines, so I would love to have some advice from locals regarding what to do?
If one gets- is this possible????- a fake bill from a ATM machine, what can be done?
I hope avrooster reads this and comes to the rescue.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 25th, 2010, 02:44 AM
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AVRooster "comes to the rescue"! LOL!!!

Hi, Graziella5b!

It's great that you'll be back here soon! Maybe we can finally meet.

About your question, I'm afraid I'm not the right person to answer it, because I simply don't deal with banks, as it is through them that the Argentine people have been robbed of their savings by various governments several times over the last few decades.

All I can suggest is that you bring in cash dollars the amount you expect to spend during your stay and change it into pesos at the Banco de la Nación in Ezeiza or in any reputable exchange house or bank in the airport or in town.

As I'm sure you know, you should avoid like the plague the crooks at the conveniently located Global Exchange booths, present in most or all of our airports.

Don't even consider bringing pesos from the US, because you'll get a terrible rate of exchange.

You can check the prevailing rate of exchange at

I'm sure you also know you can pay with cash dollars in most supermarkets, getting your change in pesos. The rate won't be too good, but I would say the risk of getting fake pesos this way is next to nil.

If you have any pesos left when you leave, you can change them back into dollars at the airport. If you are in a hurry, Global Exchange usually has an acceptable rate to BUY dollars from them.

As far as your "a fake bill from a ATM machine, what can be done?", I'm afraid the answer is there is nothing you can do, because it is normally impossible to PROVE you got it from the machine.

Have a great time in our country.
avrooster is offline  
Jul 25th, 2010, 01:16 PM
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Thank you avrooster.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 07:54 PM
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I went to Argentina and withdrew money from the ATM and we never had a problem at all. Its best to stick with the major banks and only withdraw money from them.

wanderingTradr is offline  
Jul 29th, 2010, 12:21 AM
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Like WT I spent 3 months in Argentina and did not experience any problems at all with counterfeit bank notes. Our problem was always finding a ATM that worked or did not have ridiculous limits on withdrawal. The biggest problem of all was that the guys that fill up the ATMs went on strike for a few weeks and we had to hunt around for a machine that had any cash at all. Citibank and HSBC seemed to be the most reliable overall.
crellston is offline  
Jul 29th, 2010, 01:09 AM
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How do you know the limits of withdrawl ?
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 29th, 2010, 03:48 PM
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Here's a post I did on how to recognize counterfeit bills.
soulskier is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 07:23 AM
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Gracias, soulskier. This is extremely helpful, as are so many of your contributions to this forum.

Your Web-site is an excellent resource - expecially for those traveling to Patagonia. So, again, many thanks.

MarnieWDC is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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Thank you Marnie!
soulskier is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 10:45 AM
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ATM limits? The machine will tell you. But you can go and do another transaction right away and get more.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 07:51 PM
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Generally the limit will be about $100 to $150. Thats what it was when I traveled there in may. I will be there as well for three months at the end of August so if that changes I will let you guys know

wanderingTradr is offline  

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