False image shows fake currency notes with specific serial numbers
Don't throw your notes away just yet, viral claim about fake notes is false
Claim: A viral WhatsApp message claims that Pakistani currency notes in denominations of 500, 1000, or 5000 rupees bearing serial numbers beginning with AF, CE, or HO are counterfeit. It further suggests that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has released a press statement to alert the public.
Fact: The claim is false. A representative from the State Bank of Pakistan’s media department told Soch Fact Check that no such press notice has been issued, and the item shown in the image seems doctored.
On 25 August 2023, a Whatsapp user forwarded an image to Soch Fact Check with the caption “Please check this”. The image shows a piece of paper, purportedly a press notice issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), held in someone’s hand. The notice is titled “[Translation] Fake currency notes have entered the market, people beware, State Bank.”
The text on the paper reads as follows:
“Fake currency notes enter the market. People be alert, State Bank Islamabad (special correspondent): The public has been informed through a press note from the “State Bank of Pakistan” that some fraudsters are circulating fake Pakistani currency notes in large numbers in the market. People who deal with cash on a daily basis and the public are advised to check the serial numbers of the notes carefully, especially for 500, 1000, and 5000 “hazaar” rupees notes. The serial numbers of the fake notes start with ‘AF’ for 500 rupees, ‘CE’ for 1000 rupees, and ‘HO’ for 5000 rupees.”
Fact or Fiction?
Soch Fact Check conducted a Google search with the keywords “State Bank of Pakistan”, “fake currency”, “filetype”:pdf” and limited the search results to last week. No search results showed any notices issued by the SBP. We also thoroughly checked the SBP’s website and did not find any circulars or notices announcing the statement made in the claim. SBP’s X (formerly Twitter) account, which is regularly updated with important notices and clarifications, also did not share any such notice.
Soch Fact Check also contacted the State Bank of Pakistan’s representative to verify the authenticity of the press note mentioned in the image. He told us that no such press note had been issued by the SBP and that the image is fake.
The representative also said that the SBP regularly issues public notices and advisories regarding counterfeit currency notes on its official website and social media accounts. On the SBP website, we found that the 5000 Rupee banknote is still in circulation.
The representative also advised Soch Fact Check to check the SBP’s website for any updates on currency matters and to avoid relying on unverified sources of information.
Furthermore the notice seems doctored. The article shown in the paper is poorly written, oddly formatted, and contains spelling errors. The text also does not match the paper’s edges and seems to be added digitally. The paper itself looks blank and has no visible creases or folds. For these reasons, the article seems falsified.
The claim was widely circulated in WhatsApp groups. On Facebook, we also discovered that the same claim was circulated earlier in September 2020 (here and here) and June 2018 (here). Additionally, it was found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Conclusion: A viral image circulating on WhatsApp falsely claimed that Pakistani currency notes of 500, 1000, or 5000 rupees with a serial number starting with AF, CE, or HO are fake and that the State Bank of Pakistan has issued a press note to alert the public. This claim is false and no such notice was issued.
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