Sharjah Police have dealt with three cases of fake currencies this year. Image Credit: Courtesy: Sharjah Police

Sharjah: Authorities are warning the public to be wary of counterfeit money that is still making its way into the tills of local businesses and unwitting consumers’s pockets.

A top police official has advised the public to report any counterfeit currency to police in order to reach criminals in a short time and save people from falling victims to scammers.

Colonel Ebrahim Al Ajel, director of the Criminal and Investigation Department of Sharjah Police, told Gulf News: “It is difficult for people to distinguish between a genuine and counterfeit note because counterfeiters make the fake currency look as close to the real bills as possible. That’s why we always aim to keep ourselves updated on the latest technologies introduced in the world, especially those used in currency printing, inks and special features,” he said.

He noted that modern technologies benefit counterfeiters as well.

Col Al Ajel said Sharjah Police have a special division to deal with fake currencies and have sophisticated machines to detect them, he said.

Sharjah Police have dealt with three cases of fake currencies so far this year and handled 12-14 such cases in 2016.

Col Al Ajel said: “The simplest way to detect a fake banknote is by touch. Feel the quality of the banknote. Counterfeit bank notes will always be slightly thicker than the real bank note. The counterfeit bank note will feel like a photocopied paper. On a genuine bank note, you would feel the smooth and embossed texture of the note due to intaglio printing.”

Col Al Ajel said all recorded cases with Sharjah Police were referred by money exchange houses and banks in the emirate during money transfer or exchange transactions.

“We are working on preventive measures to avoid the occurrence of the crime,” he said.

Col Al Ajel said Sharjah Police’s online patrols operate round the clock to monitor all types of cybercrimes as well as monitor currency transactions [if anyone displays currency for selling or buying] and nab people who misuse social media and blackmail victims.

The police have closed a number of suspicious accounts and sites and arrested their owners in cooperation with the telecommunications authority.

The largest seizure of its kind in Sharjah was in 2016 when Sharjah Police foiled a gang’s attempt to distribute counterfeit money amounting to $20 million.

The gang of three members from the African continent was arrested and the fake $20 million in their possession seized.

Col Al Ajel said that the gang used the fake dollars to convince people that they could double their money and make them rich in a short time.

How to identify fake currency

“When examining the bill, pay attention to the design. If it is fake, you would notice that the portrait on it is looking dull or blurred. The portrait and other design are well defined in a genuine bill and appear to be sharp,” said Col Al Ajel.

Another detail to watch out for is the watermark, a security feature that distinguishes a fake bill from a real one.

“The banknote needs to be held up against the light to check for the watermark. Whether it is genuine or counterfeit can be determined depending on whether the watermark bears exactly the same image of the person whose portrait is on the bill.

“[Also] tilt the banknote to view the colour shifting security feature that is seen on certain banknotes,” he said.

While holding the bill up against the light, look for the security thread, which runs from the top to the bottom of the note and it’s either embedded or threaded through the paper.

“You will have to hold the banknote up against the light to see the strip and printing on it. An ultraviolet light will be required to look at certain embedded security threads,” he said.


What to do if you receive counterfeit money?

If you have been offered a counterfeit money during a transaction, you must refuse the notes and explain that you suspect that they may be counterfeit. If you suspect that a banknote is counterfeit after a transaction, you have to report it to the nearest police station. Write down the details of the circumstances of how you came into possession of the counterfeit note to help the police investigation.

Don’t try to pass counterfeit notes to someone else. Passing counterfeit money is a serious crime.

In most cases, it is very difficult or impossible to change counterfeit notes after transaction.

The public can report emergency cases to Sharjah Police by calling 999 and non-emergency cases on 901.