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Suspicious Banknotes from Suspicious Countries

Bio page for Proteus By Proteus on 2013-01-24

I have been collecting paper money for six years now. Sure, its not an entirely long time, especially compared to some of my colleagues, but I am quite confident in the idea that I am one of the best, if not 'the' best, resources for eBay paper money trends. I don't say this to brag. As a matter of fact, I have very mixed feelings about spending so much time in front of my computer watching paper money auctions on eBay and tracking them. And so other than tracking changes in popularity of specific banknotes and specific countries, rises and falls in the prices of specific issues, and general availability of notes which are, or are becoming scarce I have also noticed a trend that has developed in the last six to twelve months.

I don't actually know how many of the banknotes sold on eBay are forgeries, but I have come across some very extremely suspicious auctions in the past. For example, I've seen sellers from Asia that are new to eBay and list about 200 scarce and rare banknotes all in EF-UNC condition, sell them within a week or so, cash out, then disappear for half of a year, then they reappear with many of the same notes again. Most of these notes are truly scarce, and the average selling price for them is about $150 USD. That means that over the course of this week the seller has sold $30,000 USD worth of banknotes. I always ask myself: how can someone in Cambodia or Singapore or Thailand (where most people make little money) have such a collection? I mean, sure there are probably a few rich collectors there, but would they really be the type to sell their collections on eBay? Also, is Southeast Asia not the forgery capital of the world? The latest trend, however, is for the same sort of scenario but from European countries.

Specifically I am referring to scarce banknotes, or at least semi-valuable paper money sold on eBay from countries such as:

  • Romania
  • Montenegro
  • Czech Republic
  • Greece
  • Thailand
  • South Korea

Turkey can easily be added to this list as well, though they've had suspicious sellers for quite a while now. I don't have a concrete statement to make. eBay is my favorite method for buying and collecting paper money, and I believe that most sellers (even from historically troublesome countries) have the decency to sell real banknotes. I suppose I just wanted to inform banknote collectors of this new trend, and to remind paper money buyers to be weary. As for me, before I purchase banknotes from a seller on eBay I take a look at all of this paper money listings before I bid to gauge the legitimacy of his collection. Also, I weigh in the sellers location versus the likelihood of him having access to and being able to afford, at any point, the paper money which he is selling. Hopefully this minimizes the amount of money that I spend on forgeries.


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