BSP probes proliferation of fake P1,000 bills

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 28 2021 07:02 PM

MANILA - Victims of fake P1,000 bills came forward on Tuesday to share their experiences over the last few weeks, as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) investigates the spread of counterfeit money. 

Isabel Sabio owns a small canteen in Quezon City. She recently bought a UV light money detector after her cashier was duped into taking a fake 1,000 peso banknote. 

The bill looked so authentic that they did not realize they had been victimized by counterfeiters until they tried to use the money to buy new supplies at the market. Sabio said the experience was humiliating and frustrating. 

“Siyempre, malaking halaga din ang isang libo, sa panahon ngayon ang hirap kitain. Eh kesyo wala na akong magagawa na, nangyari na yon eh," Sabio said. 

(Of course, P1,000 is a big amount, during these times, that is hard to earn. But I can’t do anything anymore; it's already over.) 

“Bat nagagaya di 'ba? Yung iba naman, kung katulad nito, kung hawak di mo malalaman na fake pala ito eh." 

(Why are they able to copy it? If you hold it like this, you won’t be able to tell if it is fake.)

As for online seller Sheril Meniano, she completed her transactions with face-to-face meet-ups and cash payments. She admitted that she wasn't able to thoroughly check the money she received because she was always rushing, and did not want to offend her customers.

So she had no idea what would happen when she ended up giving a fake P1,000 note to pay her security guard on December 16th. 

Her employee was caught by a cashier at a supermarket where he tried to buy groceries with the banknote. The supermarket’s security frisked him, rebuked him publicly, and threatened to call the police.

“Sa takot ko baka maano si kuya, pinuntahan ko siya," Meniano said. "Pinuntahan ko doon, pinakita sa akin, actually, para siyang totoo eh. Pano masasabing peke to, same na same naman sa pera ko kasi hinambing namin.” 

(I was afraid for him, so I went to him immediately. I went to the market, and they showed the bill to me. But actually, it looked real to me. I couldn’t tell that it was fake. It looked the same as the cash I had with me when we compared them.)

Meniano confirmed the bill was fake at a nearby bank. She had it replaced, but she had no idea what to do next. 

“Ano ba ang nangyari, bakit ganon, bakit may mga taong ganyan na hindi lumalaban ng patas?" she said. "Samantala kami gumagawa kami ng paraan para mabuhay, para maka survive sa pandemic, tapos babayaran ka lang ng ganito?” 

(What is going on? What is happening? Why are these people not playing fair? We work hard to earn a living, to survive the pandemic, and then they come along and pay us with this?)

The BSP earlier warned the public to be vigilant when accepting cash payments, particularly after they found an image circulating on social media warning of fake P1,000 banknotes with a serial number ending in 2507.

Meniano and Sabio provided ABS-CBN with images of the fake notes, though their serial numbers did not match that of the circulating photo.

The BSP advised the public to bring all fake bank notes to the nearest bank, so these may be referred to BSP-Quezon City. 

The BSP Payments and Currency Management Sector meanwhile said it was still investigating both the circulating images of fake P1,000 banknotes, and these latest cases which ABS-CBN brought to their attention.

On April 2022, the BSP is scheduled to start a pilot test for polymer P1,000 banknotes to determine if the plastic bills are more durable and harder to counterfeit. The BSP says the 1,000 banknote was chosen for the pilot test because it is the most counterfeited bill.