A number of money counterfeiting gangs have become active across the port city of Chittagong ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, the second-largest religious festival of the Muslim community.
The forged notes are being used primarily in the trade of contraband yaba pills and other smuggled goods, and the issue has largely remained unreported as both of the parties in the trades are afraid of being arrested, according to investigators.
Detective Branch (DB) officials of Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) have gleaned the information after arresting four members of a fake note manufacturing gang with 52 fake notes of Tk1,000 from their possession.
The arrestees are Monirul Islam, 50, Md Forkan, 32, Rajib Dhar, 40, and Md Shohel, 35.
The three-layer process of forgery
“The four arrested counterfeiters work in the third layer of the forgery whose primary duty is to distribute the fake notes into the market after collecting them from the retailers, the second layer counterfeiters in the process,” CMP’s Detective Branch (DB)’s Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Humayun Kabir told the Dhaka Tribune.
The retailers score fake notes from the agents of the manufacturers at Chittagong’s Riazuddin Bazar, the crime hub of the port city, and then they spread the notes to Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati through their subordinates, the distributors.
“A retailer has to spend Tk30,000 to buy fake notes amounting Tk1 lakh,” the DB official added.
“We have information that around three to four syndicates are active across the Chittagong region while every gang has 12 to 15 persons to spread the notes to the market,” said the ADC, adding that the arrested miscreants work for a syndicate headed by someone named Jasim.
“Jasim is still untraceable,” added the police official.
Types of counterfeit currency
The gangs have been undertaking three different strategies to counterfeit the currencies. In the first process, the counterfeiters wash the existing notes of Tk100 and Tk500 using chemicals and modern technologies and then print them with a higher denomination.
In the second process, the syndicates import high quality inks and papers from abroad and print them with marks of normal notes of Tk500 and Tk1,000.
The third process is the typical one of forging notes, where local ingredients like sub-standard inks and papers are used to produce fresh counterfeit notes.
“The demand of such fresh-looking counterfeit notes increases ahead of the religious festivals as the central bank issues a bulk amount of new notes during these periods,” said Humayun Kabir.
“It is easy to infuse the fake notes in the bundle of regular notes during these times,” he added.
Involvement of bank officials
The forged notes are also being pushed into the banking channel with the help of some unscrupulous bank officials.
“We have found officials from two private commercial banks involved in the crime but we cannot disclose the banks’ names for the sake of our investigation,” said the police official.