Counterfeit currency is the money produced without the State or government’s legal approval, generally in an attempt to duplicate the original currency and deceive the public. Producing or using counterfeit money is a kind of deception or forgery that is punishable by law.

The counterfeit notes can be differentiated from the genuine one owing to the varied materials used, such as printing plates, paper, and ink, and above all, the relaxation of inspection requirements due to high demand for currency notes, slight variations between two notes of the same value are guaranteed to exist.


A forensic science lab is frequently consulted in cases involving counterfeit banknotes to detect the existence of latent fingerprints and the source of dyes and other materials used in the production of the fake money. Counterfeiters employ a number of strategies to avoid getting detected.


There are certain methods which are employed in order to process counterfeit notes, which include:

  • Process made forgery: Forgers find it difficult to isolate the colours of a multicolour rainbow by photographing a real note via colour filters, which makes it impossible to preserve some sections of the patterns on photographic film due to merging and mixing. The negatives generated aren’t flawless, resulting in smudgy imprints from rough blocks. This is a commonly used technique.
  • Hand engraved blocks: Forgers use this approach to create blocks by tracing the design of real notes. They, on the other hand, are unable to print the complex patterns required for the rainbow hues. To achieve the appearance, they mimic the pattern by inserting criss-cross lines. The pattern is crudely reproduced, with uneven and broken lines.
  • Photographic process: A photosensitive paper is used to create a counterfeit note in this technique. This sensitized sheet of paper is exposed in contact with a negative containing the obverse and reverse imprints of a real note acquired by photographing. Photographic imprints on paper are created by exposing them to light, and then they are toned or chemically coloured in various hues.
  • Lithographic process: Some counterfeiters use lithographic stone to trace a real note. The exquisite patterns of colours, thin lines, and other details, on the other hand, are difficult to replicate using the lithographic process. The numbering is reproduced by hand drawing the figures using water or oil colours.
  • Hand drawn forgery: Some notes have also been attempted to be forged by sketching the patterns directly on a sheet of paper by hand. To match the colours of the actual notes, an outline of a note is sketched by hand with a fine brush using different water colours.


  • Overt features: These characteristics are easily identifiable and may be checked quickly and easily without the need of any equipment. It is also known as Public recognition features.
  • Semi-covert and Covert features: These are characteristics that are not visible to the general public but are well-known by verifiers and may be easily authenticated.
  • Forensic Features: Only the manufacturers are aware of these characteristics, which necessitate the employment of specialised instruments to actualise these forensic functions.


The Reserve Bank of India has added various security measures to distinguish a real bank note from a counterfeit one, in order to guarantee that counterfeiting does not occur on a regular basis. Before addressing the security aspects of a note, it appears that learning to handle a Bank Note is essential in order to readily examine the security features. The “Obverse Side” is where the denomination is printed, while the “Reverse Side” is the vice versa.

The security measures which are described below are with respect to the obverse side.

Security Paper: A bank note is made up of of comber, which is 100 percent pure cotton. Cotton waste from textile factories is known as comber. Due to the presence of Titanium Dioxide, this security paper makes a cracking sound. It has a folding strength of 6000-7000 folds.

Watermark: During the paper production process, Dandy Rolls are used to generate these watermarks. A bank note in India usually contains four watermarks. The Mahatma Gandhi watermark has a light and shadow appearance with multi-directional lines in the watermark window on the Mahatma Gandhi Series of banknotes.

The different types of watermarks are:

1.) Electrolytic watermark: This may be seen in Mahatma Gandhi’s picture. This is the denomination based on the bank note’s amount, which can be seen in the left bottom corner. It may be visible with the help of transmitted light.

2.) Mahatma Gandhi portrait: Every bank note has a watermark of Mahatma Gandhi’s image in the window. It’s a three-dimensional illustration with some shading. It is only visible in transmitted light and does not glow in Ultra Violet light.

3.) RBI Watermark: It may be found at the banknote’s centre, or more specifically, a bit to the left. Every bank note has an RBI watermark that runs vertically across the width. They are of the same size and can only be seen through transmitted light.

4.) Secret denomination: The denomination of the bank note may be seen only by transmitted light at the right hand corner at the bottom of the note.

Also Read:

Security Thread: A Security Thread is a layman’s identification characteristic, meaning it is visible and can be recognised by anybody who isn’t familiar with currency identification. The security thread is a yellow fluorescent shifting thread with clear text of micro-printing of RBI and Bharat in Hindi in mirror image on it. The colour scheme is Green/Blue. On the reverse, it seems to be a windowed or segmented thread, yet under transmitted light, it appears to be continuous. The security thread is a Starchrome thread made of metal or plastic that is woven within the money paper during the production process. Under UV light, the 100 and 500 denomination notes produce a blue colour. The Mahatma’s portrait has a security thread to the left of it. A simple, non-readable security thread is entirely integrated in the security thread. The obverse of the Rs.2000 notes has a readable, windowed security thread with the words ‘Bharat’ (in Hindi), ‘2000,’ and ‘RBI’ alternatively visible.

Latent Image: The latent picture of Mahatma Gandhi may be seen on the right side of his portrait. It carries a latent (hidden) picture of the currency’s appropriate denominational value in numerical. Only when the note is held horizontally at eye level does the latent picture become visible. It can be seen on the obverse side of Rs.2000, Rs.500, Rs.200 Rs.100, Rs.50 and Rs.20 notes as a vertical band.

Micro-lettering: This feature may be seen on the Mahatma Gandhi portrait’s right side. It is made up of the printed RBI and the banknote’s denomination. In the 5 and 10 denominations, however, the numerical denomination printing is missing. In Rs.5 and Rs.10, the term ‘RBI’ appears. The denominational value of the notes is also printed in micro-letters on notes of Rs.20 and higher.

Intaglio Printing: The portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, the Reserve Bank seal, the guarantee and promise clause, the Ashoka Pillar Emblem on the left, and the signature of the RBI Governor are all printed in Intaglio, which means raised printing that can be touched. The reverse etching method is used to make them. This feature is mainly added in order to make identification process for convenient for blind individuals.

The image marked in the above boxes are been printed by intaglio printing i.e. in raised print which can be felt by soft touch.

Braille Mark: Some symbols appear on the left edges of the notes in Intaglio printing to help visually challenged people recognise the denomination. This feature comes in a variety of shapes for different denominations. Example: Rs.20 has vertical shape, Rs.50 has square, Rs.500 has oval etc.

Fluorescence: The number panels present on the notes are printed with fluorescent ink. Optical fibres are also seen on the notes. When the notes are placed in front of an ultra-violet light, both may be seen.

Colour Changing Ink / Optically Variable Ink: On the obverse of the Rs.2000 and Rs.500 notes, the numeral digits 2000 and 500 are written in optically variable ink, a colour-changing ink. When the note is held flat, the colour of the numeral 2000/500 appears green, but when the note is held at an angle, the colour changes to blue.

See Through Register (STR): When the note is held up to the light, this function will reveal the number. The small floral design in the middle of the vertical band adjacent to the Watermark, which is printed on both the front and back of the note, has an exact back to back registration.

Omron Features: These features are also known as Anti-copying features. This is on the bank note to prevent it from being photocopied. These are little flower-like dots, criss-cross lines, and other minute printings that the photocopying machine cannot catch.


The paper is usually not composed of comber, but rather regular paper that glows blue when exposed to Ultra Violet Light. Due to a lack of tonal similarities, there may be no watermarks or fewer watermarks with obvious flaws. Counterfeiting is often accomplished by gluing two sheets of paper together and adding a fictional Security Thread. This method, however, is immediately recognizable since the note will be unusually hard to touch. The printing on counterfeit notes of low grade counterfeiting is crude or weak. The fluorescent features would glow under Ultra Violet examination. Micro-printings are not visible under magnification; instead, dots and dashes are seen.


The punishments for counterfeiting currency and bank notes are discussed in Sections 489A through 489E of Chapter XVIII of the Indian Penal Code 1860.

  • Sec.489A IPC: Counterfeiting currency-notes or bank-notes
  • Sec.489B IPC: Using as genuine, forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes
  • Sec.489C IPC: Possession of forged or counterfeit currency-notes or bank-notes
  • Sec.489D IPC: Making or possessing instruments or materials for forging or counterfeiting currency-notes or bank-notes
  • Sec.489E IPC: Making or using documents resembling currency notes or bank-notes


Five tourists from Chandigarh were arrested in Panjim and Porvorim for possessing and using counterfeit currency. They were apprehended by a team of Panjim cops at a hotel in Porbo Vaddo where they had checked in approximately a week before. The five suspects – Rajdeep, Gagandeep, Harjeet, Rahul, and Anurag – were using the fake notes in areas of the State capital and Porvorim, according to North Goa SP Utkrisht Prasoon. As per the reports, technical monitoring was used to hunt them down, and the search resulted in the recovery of various denominations of Rs 100, Rs 200, and Rs 2,000 notes. The entire quantity of counterfeit cash is estimated to be about Rs 2, 96,400.

The accused were charged under Indian Penal Code sections 489-A (counterfeiting currency notes or bank notes), 489-B (using forged or counterfeit currency notes as real), and 489-C (possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes).

Read More About Security Features of Indian Currency (2000,500) here:


  1. Questioned document, Forensic science, Foregery, Counterfeiting of Indian Bank Notes; Pathshala epgp_content/S000016FS/P000695/M011506/ET/1516250603FSC_P8_M27_e-text.pdf
  2. Counterfeit Currency, Technology And The Manufacture Of,cengage,,
  4. Counterfeit money,WIKIPEDIA,
  5. What are the main Security Features of the Currency Notes of India?;JagranJosh,
  6. 5 held for circulating fake currency,15 Sept 2020, Herald Publications Pvt Ltd  ,
  7. Reserve Bank of India,

Authored By:


BSc Forensic Science

Jain (Deemed-to-be-University)