With the arrest of a master forger of Rs 1,000 currency notes last week, Police are warning the public to be vigilant about currency transactions, while paying special attention to the security features on genuine notes.
The 29-year-old tuition master-turned-counterfeiter from Padukka who was arrested last Monday by the CID, had been able to evade the police, who were on his trail all along, for one-and-a-half years, while continuing to flood the market with forged old Rs 1,000 notes, with the peacock on the reverse.
“We managed to track down some of his brokers, but he was very smart, and it took a team of our undercover men to finally trap him,” the CID said.
The man, operating on his own, is believed to have forged the old Rs 1,000 notes, amounting to around Rs 6 million, using a printing machine at a location in Kesbewa.
Officials said that, on an average, he had printed about 30-40 Rs 1,000 notes per day, which he would send to brokers through an accomplice. “He would sell each Rs 1,000 note for Rs. 500, which the brokers would sell it for around Rs. 800 to Rs 900 to another set of persons who would discreetly introduce them into the market. The profit margin is around Rs. 50,000 for every Rs. 100,000 worth of counterfeits dispersed.
Investigating officers said that the watermark on the notes was genuine, while the lion emblem on the note was as good as that on the real note. The security thread has been so made that it can be pulled out, indicating high quality technique. It has such a fine finish, that even the counting machines at banks failed to detect the forgery, Police said.
In some instances, this had resulted in customer complaints to the banks, that the banks had issued forged notes to unsuspecting customers.
One of the suspect’s modus operandi has been to visit outstation towns carrying thousands of rupees in forged currency, exchange as much of it as possible and leave the area. He has had several close calls, and at least on three occasions came close to being arrested. That was when he escaped the police in Kataragama, Embilipitiya and Mahiyangana.
The master forger is a tuition master in Kandy, engaged in forgery while continuing to conduct classes.
Police are of the view that rounding up the forged notes already circulating in the open market for so long, is a daunting task. The CID requests the public to be cautious of notes bearing numbers like G 100, G 103, G 130 and G 133, and bring it to the attention of the Police, if they suspect it to be a forged note.
The suspect was also in the business of issuing bogus permits for sand mining and bogus driving licences. He is very adept at using modern technology.The suspect has been remanded till December 5. CID sources said that they are now on the lookout for the man’s accomplices.