Countering the counterfeit tide

Security check: A cashier using an ultraviolet light machine to detect fake money at a mall in Subang Jaya. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Fake currency notes, anyone?

Counterfeit notes are apparently being sold via social media, with the ringgit among the notes offered by sellers on various platforms.

The Star was alerted to this by a social media user who stumbled upon an advertisement for fake ringgit.

He said he was browsing the MiChat messaging app when he came across the advertisement for the sale of fake ringgit.

For RM200, the seller offered RM3,000 worth of fake notes, RM300 for RM5,000 fakes, RM500 for RM10,000 and RM1,000 for RM20,000 counterfeit ones.

The mode of payment is via bank transfers before the fake notes are handed over to the buyer.

The user has since lodged a police report.

In the advertisement, the “agent” boasted that the fake currency was “99% original, 100% will not fail, had different serial numbers and would pass the ultraviolet test”.

At press time, the contact number is no longer active on WhatsApp though the phone line is still active.

A few Facebook pages are also said to be offering counterfeit notes with claims of “high-quality” and “100% non-detectable” fakes.

A dedicated website that sells counterfeit currencies and fake documents has also been discovered.

It claims to be the “best and unique” producer of undetectable fake notes and international documents, with many of its products circulating around the world.

The website also claims that “the portrait of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is visible when you hold the banknote against the light. It has a 3D look that appears in various shades”.

It also boasts about the reliability of the hologram strip on its fake ringgit notes.

Recently, a man fell victim to a fake money transaction after selling his mobile phone to a local woman for RM1,950.

The victim was paid with 17 pieces of RM100 notes and five RM50 notes. When he tried to deposit them, he found the RM100 notes were fake.

Federal Territory Bumiputera Petty Traders Association president Datuk Seri Rosli Sulaiman said the bulk of victims were hawkers and petty traders who did not have equipment to detect the fake currency.

He said many of these small traders were reluctant to come forward and make a report because it was a hassle to do so.

“When people with fake money come and buy from these traders, it is a direct income loss because they give fake notes and get back legitimate ones.

“This problem is prevalent among all traders, and usually involves the RM100 and RM50 notes.

“Besides not having a device to detect fake money, the traders are usually also busy with running their business,” he said.

“They have no time to check the notes, especially if they are operating in the market or, say, a stall.”

Rosli said the authorities, especially Bank Negara Malaysia, should carry out more awareness campaigns about the issue to ensure people do not become victims.

Small and Medium Enterprises Association president Ding Hong Sing also said many victims did not want to come forward because of the hassle involved.

“When they come across such notes, the authorities will ask them a lot of questions.

“These victims cannot remember the details due to the nature of their business. They meet so many customers daily.

“In short, these counterfeit notes are not good for the economy nor the well-being of small business owners,” he added.

Dr Yeah Kim Leng, director of the economic studies programme at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute of Sunway University, said the issue of fake currency, if not nipped in the bud, could undermine the country’s monetary and financial system.

“If the fake currency circulation grows unchecked, there will be a loss of trust in the currency, affecting cash transactions.

“Improved security features would be a key strategy to combat fake notes.

“Equally important is effective policing to track and shut down the syndicates that engage in such illegal activities – which can be treated as economic sabotage,” he said.

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