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Claim: Amid the coronavirus crisis, Italy’s streets are now filled with discarded printed cash as seen in photos circulating on social media.
Several Facebook pages and accounts posted two photos: one is a photo of a street gutter and another, an image of a street. Both photos showed littered money.
The captions of the Facebook posts said the images were taken in Italy. “A clear message to the whole world is that money is not enough when health be in danger,” the captions said.
Over 200 posts carrying this claim were flagged by Claim Check, Facebook’s monitoring tool. The earliest post was shared on Monday, March 30.
The facts: The photos were taken in Venezuela, not Italy. The discarded banknotes were Bolivar Fuerte, Venezuela’s old currency.
A reverse image search shows that the photo of a street gutter with littered cash was first shared in March 2019 on online image site Imgur. It was captioned, “This is what happens when a currency has lost all its value, Venezuela.”
Meanwhile, the other photo was originally shared on Twitter by Descifrando la Guerra, a Spanish portal that discusses geopolitics, on March 12, 2019.
Ayer se produjo el saqueo de un banco bicentenario en la ciudad de Mérida, en las cercanías de la plaza Glorias Patrias. Los saqueadores incendiaron una pila de bolívares además de dejar muchos billetes por el suelo. pic.twitter.com/7gmL7FqMYo
Ayer se produjo el saqueo de un banco bicentenario en la ciudad de Mérida, en las cercanías de la plaza Glorias Patrias. Los saqueadores incendiaron una pila de bolívares además de dejar muchos billetes por el suelo. pic.twitter.com/7gmL7FqMYo— Descifrando la Guerra (@descifraguerra) March 12, 2019
Venezuela’s Bolivar Fuerte banknotes were thrown in the streets in 2019 because it had devalued too much due to hyperinflation. It was replaced by a new currency, the Bolivar Soberano or “sovereign bolivar.” (READ: Venezuela relaunches currency, as analysts warn of worsened crisis)
In June 2019, Rappler debunked a claim that said Venezuelans were using microchips to buy food and basic needs, causing the people to throw out their Bolivar Fuerte notes. The same photos were used in this claim. (READ: FALSE: Venezuelans use microchips to buy food, basic needs)
Since the coronavirus crisis hit Italy, several false posts have circulated online about the country. Rappler has debunked a number of claims, including a post that quoted Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as saying they’ve “lost control” over the crisis, and a post that contained photos of coffins supposedly with people who died due to the coronavirus. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com
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