They have been stolen and are no longer legal tender. Bank robbers have attacked ATMs with explosives in several cities in Uruguay, blowing open the machines and heading off with the money.
And now the banks are hitting back. Dye-packs are put amongst the bills, and if an ATM suffers a serious vibration, the pack explodes marking the bills around it with brightly coloured ink.
The dye colours reported as of today are blue and red but there may be other colours.
What should I do if I find I have a dye-marked note?
Marked bills are popping up all over the country far from city centres including in quiet country towns like Tacuarembó.
If you find you have one, turn it into the Banco de la Republica, Uruguay’s public national bank. The note is stolen property.
Don’t accept them
The bad new is you will not be reimbursed. You will have effectively lost your money. So be vigilant. Check the bills you receive before you put away your change and do not accept any note that is dye-splattered.
Both peso and US dollars bills (ATMs dispense both in Uruguay) may be affected.
Outside of banking hours, some ATM lobbies are now being closed to the public due to these robberies.
In case you are curious (I was!), turns out the robbers who have been arrested so far were from Chile.
Book mark this page. We’ll keep you posted when there are updates.
Photo: Many thanks to Silvia Vieira for allowing us to use her photo and for drawing our attention to the news