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Counterfeit $1000s from Malaysia

Until the early 2000s it was highly unlikely that you would ever encounter a counterfeit $1000 bill that was good enough to fool you.  Before that, most were produced in the Philippines over a twenty year period starting in the 1960s.  There are hundreds and thousands of such copies floating around including poorly produced copies of $100,000 Gold Certificates, also made in the Philippines.  These notes are also crudely produced and easy to spot.  However, a new counterfeit $1000 bill from Malaysia is the most accurate we’ve seen to date.

We first spotted the fake Malaysian $1000s while attending the Long Beach convention in the Winter of 2004. The fakes are surprisingly good and continue to fool coin dealers who buy these unknowingly at modest premiums over “face value”.  But even paying $1100 or $1200 each for these “notes” is a significant financial loss as this paper has absolutely no value what so ever.

PhillyThere are several key diagnostics or markers helpful in spotting these bogus $1000s. All examples observed to date have been Series 1934A Philadelphia District. Most fall into serial number range C00023xxxA with the most commonly encountered serial number being C00023323A. The bogus “notes” were produced by bleaching genuine U.S. $1 Federal Reserve Notes and then photo copying depictions of $1000 FRNs onto this paper. The result is a counterfeit that is actually produced on genuine U.S. bank note paper – a scary thought. One of the interesting tell tale signs of the counterfeit (observed from the back) are the lines of relief or embossing on Cleveland’s jacket. These lines run horizontally on the fake (like on a $1 FRN) not vertically (as on a $1000 FRN.)

There are three additional diagnostics on the bogus 1000s as outlined in the PCDA (Professional Currency Dealer Association) newsletter of 2004. They are:

  1. The serial number itself is approximately 2mm too wide. (It is 32 mm as opposed to 30 mm on the genuine banknote.)
  2. The plate number at the lower right is not the correct shape. You can probably only notice this by comparing the note with the plate  number on the genuine bill.
  3. The district number three (3) at the lower right does not have a completed loop as it should.


To the untrained eye these notes can be very deceptive.  One way to avoid ever buying a counterfeit note is to buy only third party authenticated and graded banknotes . (By PCGS-Currency and PMG.) Otherwise, be cautious when considering “raw” Series 1934A Philly 1000s. Quite a few of these Malaysian fakes have already been confiscated by, or turned in to, the U.S. Secret Service (including 2 examples that we had). We plan on adding images of one of the known examples shortly.

Marc's Notes