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V11 2008 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 27, July 6, 2008, Article 25

PERFECT CRIME? WHEN IS A FAKE BANKNOTE NOT A FAKE?

The Independent of London published an article this week detailing a South American scam involving counterfeit banknotes with an interesting twist. -Editor
For petty villains in South America, it appears that the quest for the perfect scam for relieving travellers of their excess cash has reached a perfect conclusion. It relies upon the large number of forged bank notes in circulation, but is far more subtle than simply handing over fake bills in change.

For the would-be scammer, the tough part is getting a job in a Peruvian bus station selling tickets for one of the many competing companies. Then it's just a question of timing.

Here's how it works. A gringo passenger turns up and buys a long-distance ticket. He or she pays with a 100-sol note, worth 20. The ticket vendor knows exactly which bus the traveller will be on, and what time it leaves.

Three minutes before departure, he leaves his desk and goes to the bus. He asks the passenger to step down from the bus for a moment because a problem has arisen. The issue, he explains apologetically, is that the 100-sol bill the traveller used to pay for the ticket is a forgery. The villain shows the flaws, and hardly needs to explain the issue: he needs a replacement, and quickly because the bus is about to leave.

The traveller is understandably aghast at inadvertently passing a counterfeit note. The beauty of the scam is that there is no downside.

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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