Wells Fargo Bank in Nogales, AZ Passes Counterfeit Peso Notes

Pesos front side

Pesos front side

Driving into Mexico for the first time, we read and researched what to do.  We learned you should exchange some dollars for pesos prior to getting into Mexico as there were tolls booths and a few miles into Mexico you need to buy a Visa which would cost a few hundred pesos.

I passed up currency exchange trailers in Nogales, AZ in favor of a more heavily regulated US bank, Wells Fargo.  We exchanged $200 for 2,460 pesos and were soon on our way into Mexico.  When the visa paper work was completed we handed the Mexican government official several 200 peso notes as the required fee.  He quickly called in his supervisors and after much discussion, they determined we had passed them counterfeit notes.   (By the way, the larger note in the photo is the counterfeit note.)

The counterfeit notes were a very different size, color and design.  If one is caught passing bad notes in the US, I think you are in big trouble.  Not so in Mexico, as they simple wrote “FALSO”  across each and handed them back to us.  I learned after a call to the Wells Fargo Bank manager in Nogales, AZ, (I’ll fictitiously call him “Loueeese”, Mexican pronunciation) that since I had left the bank they were no longer responsible.  Further, he said, the bank has controls in place so they could not have made such a mistake.  I hope all reading this are as comforted as I am that Wells Fargo cannot make a mistake……  Hopefully this applies to all large US banks…..

Pesos back side

Pesos back side

I agree I have some responsibility to be familiar with the currency of the countries I travel to, but to make me memorize current and past versions of all notes in circulation prior to receiving any currency and visiting the country is a bit onerous.  Especially when dealing with a heavily regulated US bank.

To stay out of trouble, I may need to add this is my opinion, or account of what happened.  However, I can assure you we had no reason to stop at more than one place to exchange our US dollars.  The bills now marked as “FALSO” did indeed come from the Wells Fargo Bank in Nogales, Arizona.

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