Forensics team restores burned, bug-eaten money

By Lee Li-fa and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - Page 4

If one’s money is accidentally set alight or eaten by bugs, it may not be a total loss, after two forensics cases in Pingtung County showed that it is possible to patch up incinerated or insect-eaten bills.

The Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau in Pingtung has had two cases in recent weeks in which they have had to carry out the demanding task of trying to restore damaged bills.

The first case arose following the death of an elderly man surnamed Weng (翁) in Pingtung’s Ligang Township (里港). While cleaning up his father’s belongings, Weng’s son discovered a packet of cash that had been chewed up and burrowed through by insects.

Looking at what was left of the money, Weng’s son estimated that the wad of cash totaled NT$300,000 in NT$1,000 bills, so he took the packet to the bureau’s Pingtung office to see if it could help hem recover some of the cash.

Bureau officials said that after making a significant effort to restore portions of bills, forensic division personnel managed to salvage about NT$44,000.

Although the sum falls far short of the original value estimated by Wen’s son, it was the best that the division could do with such a difficult task, the bureau said.

The second case involves a woman surnamed Chen (陳), who owns a local breakfast eatery.

When Chen’s house caught fire, four packets of NT$40,000 in cash that she had stashed in her home were reduced to blackened ashes.

Chen was despondent because the money that burned was what she had been setting aside to pay back a loan, so she took the four charred bundles of money to the bureau’s office to seek help.

The forensic team again succeeded in restoring some of the bills and Chen was able to salvage about NT$25,000.

According to a Bank of Taiwan manager, banking regulations stipulated that torn or damaged bills can be exchanged at full value if more than three-quarters of the bill can be restored.

If more than half of a bill can be restored, but is still less than three-quarters complete, banks can exchange it for half of its value. However, if less than 50 percent of the bill is recovered, it will be not be exchanged.

The manager said that it is very difficult to verify bills that have been incinerated or damaged by water, even with precision machinery.

Therefore, for these cases, he advised the public to take their money to be verified can at the central bank’s authorized agencies.

After verification is complete, the person can then go to the Bank of Taiwan to exchange the damaged bills.