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Why you can’t photocopy money in Australia

by Mary Sewell

An Aussie TikTok user has been left scratching his head after sticking four $50 bills into his photocopying machine. Instead of spitting out five mirror images in the paper bay, Damien Sienkiewicz, or @dsanka, found a strange quirk to his machine.

Since it was posted on Monday, the video has gone viral, with 547,000 views in writing.

“Okay, so here we are, trying to photocopy some $50 notes here, just in a standard photocopier,” Damien begins as he loads up his cash into the photocopier. Interestingly, when you go to copy it, and then you wait for it to come out, thinking you’re going to get a nice photocopy of some $50 bills so you can make it rain…

“But you can’t photocopy money,” Damien finishes.

  • He shows a piece of paper that isn’t a copy of a $50 note at all.
  • Instead, strewn across the paper is a URL that links to an anti-counterfeit website.
  • Damien shows viewers a piece of paper with the words http://rulesforuse.org emblazoned on it.

“Look at that, how cool’s that.”

When you follow the website, it takes you to a US webpage for the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group (CBCDG).

The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group (CBCDG) describes itself as a group of 32 central banks teamed up to stop counterfeit fraud.

Australia is one of the 32 countries involved in the group.

The bank’s “mission is to investigate the common emerging threats to the security of banknotes and to propose solutions for implementation by issuing authorities,” according to its website.

According to a science website, the currency bills or notes that have the EURion Constellation on them can be detected by photocopiers, and the machines are programmed to refuse to print copies to stop counterfeiting.

The Orion constellation is a pattern of disjointed circles visible on most of the notes and quickly picked up by machines.

Some photocopy machines might even shut down when you try to reprint money.

Apparently, this phenomenon was first discovered in 2002 when a computer science student from Cambridge University, Markus Kuhn, tried to print money on the first color photocopier he’d ever seen. Kuhn attempted to copy a 20-pound British banknote, but instead, a counterfeit warning in several different languages popped out of the machine.

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