How To Tell Genuine Jamaican Notes from Counterfeit

In September 2010, the police intercepted a motor vehicle in St James carrying a total of US$1,900 in US $100 notes; US$400 in US $50 notes, and US$40 in US $20 notes – all counterfeit. They also found J$13,000 in counterfeit $1000 bills.

Not many Jamaicans realise that the possibility of them having handled at least one counterfeit note in their lifetime is very real. Especially with the increase in reports about scamming and fraud in the country, have you ever stopped to wonder if all the notes you are using on a daily basis are real? How would you know if they were fake?

The Bank Of Jamaica (BOJ) is the only legal entity allowed to issue notes and currency to the Jamaican public. As stipulated in the Bank of Jamaica Act 1960, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is responsible for:

  • “formulating and implementing monetary policy to maintain price stability;
  • ensuring the maintenance of a sound and efficient financial system; and
  • meeting the currency needs of the public.”

That last point – “meeting the currency needs” of the Jamaican public – simply means they ensure that the public has the money it needs to carry out daily transactions and keep the local economy going. This, their website says, “facilitates the management of the country’s financial system”.

Below are lists of  key security features for the Jamaican $500, $1000 and $5000 notes. If you have a note that you believe is counterfeit, you should take it to the police at once. It is a criminal offence to hold on to or pass on a note that you know is counterfeit.

Key Security Features of the Jamaican $500 Note

  1. Feel the banknote.
    Run your fingers over the note for the familiar feel of banknote paper and to find the places where the ink is thicker.
  2. Look at the iridescent coating.
    This consists of a vertical band of colour which changes when viewed at an angle. The image on the $500 is a band of ‘clubs’.
  3. Jamaican $500 feature for the visually impaired

    Look and feel the feature for the visually impaired.
    Each note has a different symbol on the front to aid the partially sighted.

  4. Look for the watermark.
    Hold the banknote up to the light and see the image of Nanny of the Maroons on the $500.
  5. Check for the watermark highlight.
    Place the banknote on a dark surface and the shadow of a crocodile and 500 will be seen on the $500 and a butterfly. The same images appear as a bright highlight in the paper when the note is held up to the light.
  6. Check the security thread.
    Tilt the banknote up and down and the colour will change from red to green. Hold the banknote up to the light and the strip will appear as a continuous line with the text ‘BOJ’ and the denomination of the note, e.g. BOJ 500.

 

Key Security Features of the Jamaican $1000 Note

  1. Feel the banknote.
    Run your fingers over the note for the familiar feel of banknote paper and to find the places where the ink is thicker.
  2. Look at the iridescent coating.
    This consists of a vertical band of colour which changes when viewed at an angle. The image on the $1000 is a band of butterflies.
  3. Jamaican $1000 feature for the visually impaired

    Look and feel the feature for the visually impaired.
    Each note has a different symbol on the front to aid the partially sighted.

  4. Look for the watermark.
    Hold the banknote up to the light and see the image of Michael Manley on the $1000.
  5. Check for the watermark highlight.
    Place the banknote on a dark surface and the shadow of a butterfly and 1000 on the $1000. The same images appear as a bright highlight in the paper when the note is held up to the light.
  6. Check the security thread.
    Tilt the banknote up and down and the colour will change from red to green. Hold the banknote up to the light and the strip will appear as a continuous line with the text ‘BOJ’ and the denomination of the note, e.g. BOJ 1000.

Key Security Features of the Jamaican $5000 Note

Image from Bank of Jamaica website

Front

  1. Look for the fine engraved lines of the portrait of the Most Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer O.N., P.C., Prime Minister of Jamaica (1967 – 1972)
  2. Look for the black vertical serial number which increases in size. It should match the red horizontal number on the right hand side.
  3. Look for the wide Optiks™ silver thread featuring images of the Jamaican coat of arms (reversed on front). This thread is contained within the paper and is not stuck on top of it.
  4. When the note is held up to the light, the complete thread with ‘BOJ 5000’ REPEATED vertically on both sides.
  5. When viewed under UV light two parallel bars of fluorescent green are visible along the edge of the Optiks thread.
  6. The yellow background of the Jamaican coat of arms (right reading) displays a red map of Jamaica on a green background under UV light.
  7. Feel the tactility of the denomination numerals in the corners and the text containing the words’ BANK OF JAMAICA’ and ‘FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS’.
  8. Hold the note up to the light to see the watermark of the Most Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer and an adjacent bright ‘5000’ electrotype.
  9. The chequered image becomes perfectly complete as a leaf when the note is held up to the light.
Image from Bank of Jamaica website

Back

  1. As with the front, the leaf pattern is completed when the note is held up to the light.
  2. Check that the honeycomb pattern should look smooth and of one colour.
  3. Look for the image of Highway 2000.
  4. Look for the silver metallic oval created by the Optiks window. Within the oval you should see at least one complete image of the Jamaican coat of arms (right reading).
  5. When held up to the light the 18mm wide Optiks thread is visible with images of the Jamaican coat of arms and the ‘BOJ 5000’ text repeated at the edges.
  6. Under UV light the text ‘BOJ 5000’ is visible along the edges of the thread.
  7. Look at the fine engraved lines of the frangipani flowers (plumeria rubra).

Sources:
Downloadable PDF from BOJ: http://boj.org.jm/pdf/500_and_1000_security_feature.pdf
Downloadable PDF from BOJ: http://boj.org.jm/pdf/5000_security_feature.pdf
Jamaica Gleaner: Watch out for counterfeit money