166 cases since 2008,141 of them registered by banks; fake notes of Rs 22 lakh recovered,more believed to be in circulation
Counterfeit currency notes difficult to detect without a machine has been flooding the Pune market in a big way,leading to concern. While Fake India Currency Notes (FICN) have been affecting local traders and shopowners,banks are the worst hit.
As per details obtained by The Indian Express under the RTI Act from Pune city police,166 complaints of fake currency (under section 489 of IPC) were registered between January 2008 and April 2012. Of these,141 were by banks in the city. C V R Rajendran,executive director,Bank of Maharashtra said,FICN of over Rs 12 lakh were found in our banks last year. The money cannot be recovered; the bank is at a loss. In January,Narayan Peth branch of the HDFC Bank lodged a complaint at Vishrambaug police station against unknown persons for depositing FICN of around Rs 4 lakh before December 2011. There were 54 fake notes of Rs 1,000 denomination,728 of Rs 500 denomination and 38 of Rs 50 denomination.
Banks are installing fake currency detector machines to save themselves from losses. When a fake note is detected,banks either tear it or put a cancellation mark on it and return it to customers. A few days ago,Sumit Dole who runs a shop at Kothrud deposited cash at the UCO bank. The bank staff put a cancellation mark on one of the Rs 1,000 notes he deposited,saying it was a fake. It was a loss of Rs 1,000 for me. There are persons who have suffered higher losses due to FICN,that look so genuine it is tough to identify it as a fake, said Dole.
Not all banks have installed fake note detector machines. When FICN are detected,banks lodge police complaints against unknown persons. In the 166 cases registered since 2008,FICN to the tune of Rs 22 lakh were detected,mostly by banks. Police say that actual FICN circulated in the market could be much higher.
A fake currency racketeer arrested last year,Bullu Akhtar Abdul Kasam (22) and his aides,all from Malda in West Bengal,were found to have deposited Rs 2 lakh genuine currency at a Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch in Pune. Investigators suspect the racketeers had exchanged FICN of over Rs 3 lakh with genuine currency in the market and deposited Rs 2 lakh.
Business establishments and big traders have started installing machines to detect fake currency.
S P Sanjeev Kumar,head,Strategic Business,Becrux Business Systems,dealing in these machines said,Earlier it was only banks,but now we have orders for the machines from retail chains like D-Mart,builders,jewellers and other business establishments handling huge cash daily.
Sources said even if fake notes may be detected by traders many a time,they are not torn or destroyed but are either deposited in banks that do not have machines to detect them or circulated in the market,at places like petrol pumps. As a result,circulation of fake currency continues.
Fake currency racketeers are suspected to be using hawala,illegal gambling and matka dens for circulation of fake notes as they are not deposited in banks,and therefore circulates easily.
Investigators said superior quality FICN are printed by enemy nations and smuggled into India. They said it is also used to raise funds for terror activities. The state ATS had in December 2010 arrested Indian Mujahideen member Shabbir Gangawali from Janwadi area of Pune,and found 250 FICN of Rs 100 denomination in his possession. He was sentenced to five-year rigorous imprisonment in November 2011.
How they operated
Bullu Kasim,arrested at Kurla in Mumbai last year by assistant inspector Mohammed Hanif Patel,is believed to have ciruclated fake currency notes in Pune,Mumbai and Nagpur. Four of his accomplices were arrested by Samartha police in Pune in August 2011. The racketeers stayed in lodges in Pune,and kept changing their place of stay daily. They moved in marketplaces away from the lodge. They gave fake notes of Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 to shopkeepers on purchasing items costing much lesser,say Rs 100 or so. The shopkeepers returned the balance in original notes,which they deposited in PNBs Pune Camp branch. The account-holder was Abdul Rehman of Malda,who could not be traced. In two days,the racketeers had deposited Rs 2 lakh in this account and it was withdrawn within minutes from other parts of the country, said inspector Patel. Police recovered only 2 FICN of Rs 1,000 denomination from Bullu. He was sentenced to 13-year RI by a Shivdi fast track court in April.