New York Times travel columnist Joe Sharkey was surprised when he found two bills that he’d received when he exchanged his dollars for pesos at the Mexico City airport were refused by a taxi driver.
“This is no good,” said the cabbie. “Counterfeit.”
Which led Joe to look into the issue of counterfeit money abroad. And he was surprised to learn that countries often visited by Americans—Mexico and England, for example—are having problems with fake currency. And tourists who aren’t familiar with the look and feel of the local money are prime targets when it comes to passing those bills.
What’s worse, there’s not a lot you can do if you find you’re holding fake bills. In Mexico, Joe’s hotel general manager suggested he not call the police because, after all, it was HE who now possessed counterfeit money.
The best way to avoid getting stuck with fake money is to look at bills you receive carefully and note the feel of the paper. Even a fake bill in a foreign currency can be surprisingly easy to spot IF you’re looking for it.