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On a beautiful day taking a walk through a tourist area, an expat saw a book with a beautiful photos in the hands of a local seller. After negotiating the ridiculous tourist price down to something more reasonable, the hard part was over. I relaxed and continued to close out my transaction so I could get back to my wandering. After turning away I proceeded to separate the change I had received into my pocket change, and the money I stashed in case I met a pickpocket and there it was...
After negotiating a good price, the seller had gotten his revenge by offloading a fake 10 元 bill on me. And I had failed to check my change before walking away. Although I rocked the negotiation, not checking my change was my mistake. Luckily it only cost me about $1.50.
Anywhere you go you need to be aware of your surroundings to stay safe and hold on to your belongings, but China especially has a HUGE counterfeit money problem. Even ATM's have been known to distribute this fake money. For foreigners in China we can easily become distracted with all the people brushing past you, the interesting sights, and trying to find your way.
This advice is simple and free.
Always count your change before you walk away.
Don't believe counterfeit is a huge problem? Check out this excerpt from a traveler swindled out of $200 USD from an ATM transaction.
Check out this video. It is not brief, but its cheaper to watch this than to get swindled!
If you want to see a plain old list of things to look for check out this article from Currencyguide.eu
Moral of the story. Please familiarize yourself with the money (not just the size and shape but the watermarks and additional security features) and check each and every bill you receive, or just sign up for WeChat Pay.
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