Central Bank to educate the public on spotting forged currency

By Malik Gunatilleke

The Central Bank (CB) is to venture on a public education programme on detecting forged currency notes in the wake of a series of cases of counterfeiting the newly printed Rs.1000 note and similar cases in recent months.

The CB reported that it was undertaking educational programmes on television and newspapers following reports of forgeries of Rs.2000, Rs.1000, Rs.500 and Rs.100 bills, in order to prevent large scale currency counterfeiting.

A spokesman for the Currency Department said that around 220 forged Rs.1000 notes have been detected already, while the public could spot the fakes as they do not have the security features of genuine notes.

“We have many programmes to educate the public on how not only Rs.1000 notes but also other counterfeit notes could be identified. There have been some cases reported of even Rs.50 notes being forged,” he said.

The Counterfeit Currency Bureau (CCB) of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is currently investigating the forgery of the newly printed Rs.1000 note for which four youths have been apprehended.

The police acted on a tip-off when they arrested two suspects at the Colombo Fort railway station with three forged notes in their possession which they claimed they had received during a transaction.
Upon further questioning the suspects confessed that they were working with another man in Maharagama who was printing the notes using his personal computer and printer. A source from the CCB said that the man had scanned the two sides of the original note after which he had printed them. The police had found around 80 notes in the youth’s possession at the time while they found a further 10 with another suspect also living in Maharagama.

The CCB claimed that the new Rs.1000 note was chosen because it would be easier to exchange during transaction as the public was currently unfamiliar with it. However, despite further questioning the CCB is still unsure as to how many notes are currently in circulation as a result of this scam which began sometime in mid-December while a few reports on counterfeit notes have surfaced in the Colombo Fort area.

CCB officers are currently inspecting the confiscated computer and printer to get possible details on how many notes have been printed.

The forged notes are said to be noticeably different from the original Rs.1000 notes and could be easily identified upon a closer look. The counterfeit notes are said to have the lion emblem haphazardly drawn on them while the quality of the paper used by the suspects is similar to that of an A4 sheet.

One of the sides is said to be darker in colour than the original while subtle differences could also be noticed. The four suspects all aged between 21 and 23 years are currently in remand until January 19 when they will be brought before the Colombo Fort Magistrate.

Further inquiries are proceeding on whether any other counterfeit notes are in circulation.

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