The Colombia counterfeit dollar market is booming. Colombia has long been a home to large number of counterfeiters, and they are reportedly making a killing like never before as the neighboring Venezuelan economy falls deeper into crisis.
Although there are many takers for fake currency in several Latin American countries, Venezuelans are believed to be the main customers for the Colombian counterfeiters. Pushed by the need to get a hold of a currency more stable than their local Bolivars, Venezuelans are knowingly or unknowingly purchasing dollar bills from counterfeiters.
According to Colombian officials interviewed by the Bogotá’s El Tiempo newspaper, the purchase price of fake $100 bills has doubled on the black market in just one year. In Venezuela, $1 is officially worth about almost six and a half Venezuelan bolivars.
Colombian police, with the support of U.S. intelligence, have continued to crack down on counterfeiters. But the appetite for the dollar does not seem to be subsiding, thanks largely to the growing value for the U.S. currency.
Less than 18 months ago, $1 was worth around 2,000 Colombian pesos in the legitimate market. Today, it goes for around 3,300 pesos.
In 2013, the United States added anti-counterfeiting features to its $100 bill, yet the older bills without anti-counterfeiting features have remained in circulation.
Last year, nearly two million bills were seized and as many as 60 people were arrested on charges of counterfeiting. According to local papers, the most of the Colombia counterfeit shops are based in Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Pasto, and Cúcuta.
Reports say counterfeiting industry is booming in Peru as well. “Counterfeiters around the region have developed sophisticated techniques for producing convincing forgeries at a prolific pace,” reports Insight Crime, a Medellín-based journalism and research organization.