Increasingly sophisticated techniques with counterfeiters are throwing up a huge challenge to authorities and money exchange houses with to forge notes with most of the security features used in real currencies, said forensic experts in Dubai.
The Indian rupee has emerged as the currency of choice, overtaking the US dollar in 2011 by currency forgers, accounting for 10,700 pieces of the top five fake bank notes (24,000) of different countries seized by Dubai Police last year.
Aqil Al Najjar, head of the Questioned Documents Section, Department of Forensic Science and Criminology of the Dubai Police said “These fakes look so real,” “The counterfeiters have increased [so much] in sophistication that they have copied up to 85 per cent of the security features on currency notes, especially on the Indian rupee… It is difficult for a common man to detect them.”
Al Najjar said that the police nabbed an Eastern European woman last week, who presented phoney Rs35,000 worth of new Rs1,000 denomination notes to a Dubai money exchange.
The US dollar is second in counterfeiting to the Indian rupee with 9,000 pieces of fake $100 notes seized in Dubai in 2011. In 2010, the US dollar accounted for an overwhelming majority with 90,000 fake notes seized in Dubai.
Third for counterfeiting since 2010 was UAE dirham with 7,500 pieces in 183 cases; followed closely in fourth place by Saudi riyal with nearly 6,900 notes in 21 cases. In the top five list of forging included the euro with more than 3,000 pieces of fake €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes in 16 cases over the last two years.
“There are a lot of ‘Class A’ fake Indian rupees going around,” said Al Najjar, using forensic terminology to describe high quality counterfeit money.
Dubai is rising as a global trading crossroad for fake bills and a magnet for counterfeiters due to the sheer volume of cases reported. “We do find ourselves under tremendous pressure when a huge volume of suspect items need to be checked one by one,” said Al Najjar.
Fayez Abdul Monem, a forensic document expert, believes counterfeit currencies come from a few sources. “The pattern on the end product suggests there are a few criminal gangs outside the UAE printing these fake notes.”