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Counterfeit Banknotes

Identifying Counterfeit Banknote

Counterfeit banknotes are reproduction of the real banknotes using materials of low quality but appear similar to the genuine with intent to deceive member of the public.

Counterfeit banknotes have no value but it is possible that they may be used and may escape detection for some time. Thus, protect yourself and always check your banknotes when you receive them.


Detecting a Counterfeit Banknote

All counterfeits of modern banknotes can be recognized without too much difficulty. The differences can be seen upon closer examination by applying the "FEEL , LOOK, TILT and CHECK" Principle.

Counterfeit Detection: Feel

Security Features Genuine Counterfeit
Feel the quality of paper The genuine banknote is usually printed on very high quality paper and manufactured from cotton. It has a unique feel, crisp sound and slightly rough in the heavily printed areas. The paper used for making the counterfeit notes appears to be poor quality,most common commercial type of paper.
Feel the Intaglio Printing The intaglio print is a raised printing effect produced by applying layers of tactile inks on various parts of the front and reverse sides of the notes The counterfeit banknote does not have feeling the raised printing.

Counterfeit Detection: Look

Security Features Genuine Counterfeit
Look at the banknote and hold it up to the light The genuine banknote carry a watermark portrait, security thread and perfect see through features . A watermark portrait of Yang DiPertuan Agong has three dimensional effect and appears soft and shady without sharp outlines portrait. At the base of watermark a denomination number is clearly visible.
The security thread will always looked embedded in the paper. The hibiscus flower on the obverse will register perfectly with the same flower on the reverse of the banknote.
The watermark in the counterfeit is not visible. If any, it can be appears like a drawing.

The security thread is simulated and rather blurs, and can be easily scrapped off.
The see through features does not perfectly registered with the pattern on the reverse side of the banknote.
Look under magnifying glass You can see micro lettering on observe and reverse sides of all banknotes. The lettering on a genuine banknote should be sharp and not blurred. The micro lettering of the words 'BANKNEGARA MALAYSIA', 'BNM' and banknotes denomination i.e. RM1, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100 on the banknote are not present, only dots are printed to simulate this features.
Look ultra-violet light Invisible fluorescent elements representing various elements of the background on the obverse and reverse will fluoresce in different colours. Various elements are captured under UV light such as invisible fibres and phosphorescence square. Under UV light the invisible fibres and phosphorescence square are completely missing in the counterfeit note. The paper of the counterfeit is UV bright, meaning that it glows more than genuine banknote paper.

Counterfeit Detection: Tilt

Tilt the banknote
LEAD feature (incorporated in RM10, RM50 and RM100)
You can see the iridescent stripe shines under a bright light and showing the banknote denomination and the name of BNM when the view angle is shifted.
Lead feature is very difficult to counterfeit. Normally the shines of the LEAD cannot be seen. Some counterfeiters will attempt to simulate it by using a plain shiny foil.
PEAK feature
When changing the angle of view by shifting the banknote, a hidden image of denomination number i.e. 50 will be revealed in the centre of the PEAK square.
There is no latent image of denomination in the PEAK feature or some simulation of image has been attempted.

Security Features

Various security features have been incorporated into the Malaysia Ringgit banknote. It is important for you to be aware of some of these security features and be able to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit notes which are completely worthless.

Level Examination Security Features
Level I : Public Human Sense
  • Watermark Portrait
  • Security Thread
  • LEAD Feature
  • PEAK Feature
  • Perfect See Through
  • Intaglio Print
Level II : Cash Handler Human Sense & Equipments
  • All the first level features
  • Security Fiber
  • Fluorescent Elements
  • Micro Lettering
  • Fluorescent Square

What Do You Do If You Receive a Counterfeit Banknote?

Notify the police immediately if you have received counterfeit banknotes. Using or returning counterfeit banknotes is just as illegal as manufacturing it. Counterfeit banknotes are not eligible for replacement!

Follow these steps

  • Delay the person (passer) who gives you the counterfeit banknotes if possible and observe the passer's description, as well as that of his/her companion if any, and the license numbers of any vehicles used by them
  • Do not write on, cut or re-circulate the counterfeit currency
  • Handle the currency as little as possible (e.g. you can put it in an envelope or plastic cover). Record on a separate sheet of paper all the details about how you got the currency, who gave it to you, where and when you got it
  • Take the counterfeit currency to the nearest police station and surrender the counterfeit currency to them after lodging a police report

Penal Code

Section 489 Penal Code (Offence Relating to Currency Matter)

Subject Type of Offence Whether the police may ordinarily arrest without warrant or not Penalty imposed
489A Forging or counterfeiting currency notes or banknotes

May arrest without warrant

Imprisonment for 20 years
and fine
489B Using as genuine forged or counterfeiting currency or banknotes - do - Imprisonment for 20 years
and fine
489C Possession of forged or counterfeiting currency notes or banknotes - do - Imprisonment for 10 years
489D Making or possession of instrument or materials for forging or counterfeiting currency notes or banknotes - do - Imprisonment for 20 years
and fine



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