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High quality counterfeit U.S. notes circulating in N. Korea: sources

2016/06/26 14:44

HONG KONG, June 26 (Yonhap) -- High quality U.S. counterfeit notes are circulating in North Korea, raising speculation that the reclusive country may be manufacturing them and handing them off to unsuspecting visitors, sources in Hong Kong said Sunday.

Sources who are familiar with the North said a Hong Kong businessmen who visited Pyongyang recently tried to deposit a US$100 note with a local bank but was told that it was a counterfeit bill.

The entrepreneur, who was not identified, claimed he got the bill just as he was checking out of the hotel he stayed in while in the North Korean capital.

The Hong Kong bank reported the counterfeit to authorities saying the note had a serial number starting with DE.

Related to the latest discovery, authorities in the former British colony said some businessmen who were in the North Korean capital in late May to take part in a product fair came back home with fake $100 notes. These same people received fake $50 notes at a market in the North.

"The notes were so well-made that they were not detected by mobile counterfeit note detection sensors carried by the businessmen," said an insider, familiar with the incident.

He said the $100 notes were of higher quality than the $50 bills.

Related to the discovery, a North Korean watcher said there has been speculation that counterfeit notes are circulating in the North without people knowing about it. He said with no usable sensors available in the country, there is no way for ordinary North Koreans to know that the money they have is real or fake. He added that with North Koreans not having access to good color scanners or copy machines, it may be North Korean authorities that are making such notes.

Reflecting this, authorities that checked the bill said that it was a very well-made fake. North Korea's ruling party is known to have operated a special bureau that made counterfeit currency, and in the past, the country was accused of making so-called superdollars.

Chinese media, meanwhile, said that counterfeit Chinese yuan have been found, with some authorities suspecting North Korea of making such notes.

This undated file photo shows an authentic US$100 note on the left and a counterfeit one on the right. (Yonhap) This undated file photo shows an authentic US$100 note on the left and a counterfeit one on the right. (Yonhap)