Just two weeks after they went into circulation, police on Wednesday busted a gang that had begun counterfeiting the new NIS 200 bill, which was updated in order to prevent counterfeiting and other security infractions. The gang, located in the northern Arab village of Tuba Zangria outside Nazareth, were arrested when they tried to pass some of the bills at a gas station in the upper Galilee.
In a statement, the Bank of Israel said that the reason the counterfeiters were caught was because of the new security features of the bill – making it easier for merchants to differentiate between a real and phony bill. “We use the most advanced security measures on our new bills,” the Bank of Israel said. “They are clear yet very advanced, making it easy for anyone to identify a counterfeit bill.”
According to Bank of Israel CEO Chezi Kalo, “The security features were designed to be recognized and identified by the general public. You do not need to be an expert in banknotes in order to verify them.” Among the clear identifying signs, he said, are a golden-toned serial number, a bright blue line running through the inside of the bill, and a reflective watermark – all of which require unique papers and inks that would be extremely difficult for non-government entities to obtain. There are other undisclosed security signs as well, so that even if some bills get through, counterfeiters will be identified by police and bankers immediately.
The new blue-toned bill replaces the red-toned NIS 200 bill that has been in use for over a decade. The red bills are still legal tender and will remain so for at least five years in the future. Besides the security measures, the Bank of Israel said, the new bills are “hardier” and less prone to damage, so they will remain in use longer.
The bill is one of four that the BOI is in the process of reissuing, all themed on Israeli poets and artists. The new bill features a portrait of Israeli poet Natan Alterman; others to be featured on the bills include poet Shaul Tchernikovsy on the NIS 50 bill (which is already in circulation), and poets Rachel (Blobstein) and Leah Goldberg.