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A newly released, redesigned 500-peso bill has become one of the most successfully counterfeited bills in recent memory, despite its complex anti-counterfeiting features.

The phony bills began circulating throughout Tijuana in November. According to Marco Antonio Hermosillo, coordinator of the state government's investigating body (the Instituto de Investigación Juridíca y Seguridad Pública de Baja California), the fake money is of excellent quality in terms of artistry. (Notable is the fact that the bill features a portrait of Mexican muralist and painter Diego Rivera on one side; his wife, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, on the other.)

Experts are impressed with the attention the counterfeiters have given to detail, the false bills’ sharpness of printed image, and the inclusion of a hologram and watermark. Certain reflective inks were also used to emulate the ones used in the real bill.

Hermosillo pointed out that the most frequently counterfeited notes are of the 200-, 100-, and 50-peso notes, while phony U.S. currency in Mexico is usually of the 20-, 50-, and 100-dollar denominations.

The counterfeiting of the 500-peso note (worth around 42 dollars) is a new and troubling trend, especially considering the quality of the recently discovered ones. Hermosillo says that people who wind up with the phony 500s should not try and exchange them for “real” money, as they could then be considered criminally liable and subject to imprisonment.

Image: Partial views of front and back of a 500-peso note

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