Abu Dhabi police busts counterfeit currency racket

ABU DHABI - The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Abu Dhabi Police, in cooperation with Dubai Police, has busted the biggest ever counterfeit crime in the country in which a four-member gang was trying to put into circulation fake currency notes worth Dh10 million, officials said in the capital on Tuesday.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Wed 28 Apr 2004, 9:47 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:01 AM

Acting on a tip-off, CID personnel arrested the gang, all Africans, and seized a large amount of counterfeit US dollars, UAE dirham, Euro, stamps, printing machines, copiers and scanners from them, Colonel Abdul Karim Mohammed Al Marzouqi, Head of Investigation at the Security Affairs Department of the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police told newsmen.

He said after receiving the information about the gang's attempts to circulate the counterfeit notes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a trap was set up to nab one of the culprits by agreeing that the fake currency would be exchanged for genuine currency notes from one of the banks.

Permission was immediately obtained from the General Prosecutor in Abu Dhabi to take necessary action. A room was booked for the accused, a Mauritanian holding a Senegalese passport, at one of the hotels in Abu Dhabi. Taking extra caution, the culprit came to the room, initially without bringing the fake money along with him.

But an officer, posing as a bank employee, won his confidence after asking for commission to get the notes exchanged for real ones from the bank. He then turned up on his second visit to the room with counterfeit currency for Dh5 million in the denomination of Dh500.

'He fell in the trap after he was convinced that no security elements would be around the place where the money was to be delivered,' the official stated. During the investigation, the accused confessed to the police that he had received the amount from the gang members in Dubai. The team, which was specially formed to investigate into the case, rushed to Dubai.

Working closely with the CID personnel of Dubai Police, the team monitored the movement of the gang, raided their apartment and arrested the other three members of the gang who were two Cameron nationals and a Central African citizen.

A permission to raid their residence was obtained from the Public Prosecution. The team recovered counterfeit currency notes worth Dh7 million, $324,000, and 7,500 Euros in addition to genuine notes used for counterfeiting. The recovered amounts included uncut printed notes.

The team also recovered two colour printing machines used for scanning, copying and printing currency notes in addition to other substances and printing material, cutting and measurement equipment and blank paper for printing US dollars. There were also other equipment, chemical liquids and books used for black magic, swindling and humbug therapy. Fake international driving licences were also seized.

The gang members also had in their possession millions of defaced notes used in black magic operations in which they con their victims that they will double bank notes for them. One of the criminals is an HIV carrier, the officials said.

The criminals have been referred to the Public Prosecution. They may face life sentence and a fine of Dh 100,000 each. Praising the cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Dubai CID, Col Marzouqi said the operation had averted a catastrophe, which could have seriously affected national economy. 'Counterfeiting currency is one of the dangerous issues facing the country's economy. Had this large amount of fake currency managed their way into circulation, it could have created serious problems for commercial sectors in the country,' he noted. He said arresting the gang was a difficult task as the gang members were 'smart'. They didn't have a specific address, but only mobile phone numbers and they were on the move,' Col Marzouqi noted. He said the police departments give priority to all types of economic crimes under the instructions of Major-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Under-secretary of the Ministry of Interior.

According to a recent study conducted in the US, around 20 per cent of the private companies and financial establishments are victims of currency and credit card forgery and counterfeit crimes. The UAE has taken tight measures to prevent such crimes. Cashiers and employees of financial institutions are trained on currency inspection and how to detect fake bank notes.

'Because of the recent advancement in photocopying machines and other equipment, the crime of counterfeiting currency and bank notes has become very complicated as the gangs involved in such rackets are producing high-quality notes,' said Colonel Dr Ahmed Al Awadi, Head of Criminal Evidence with Abu Dhabi Police.

'The layman will not be able to make out whether one is a fake or real note,' he said.

The officials advised the public to be careful in dealing in such matters so that they would not fall victims to these rackets. They also urged members of the public to report any information to help curb such crimes.

The Press conference was also addressed by Major Abdul Rahman Ahmed Al Nuaimi, Director of Economic Crimes at the Security Affairs Department and Major Ibrahim Hamad Al Hanaei, Investigation Officer at the Economic Crimes Department.

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