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Is counterfeit money increasingly becoming common?

Last week, Rwanda National Police (RNP) arrested two young men in Rusizi District, on suspicion of possession of counterfeit money.

The duo was reportedly alleged to possess money worth Rwf280,000 with the fake notes in the denominations of Rwf1,000 and Rwf2,000.

 

Like the two young men however, another victim ,resident of Rubavu District was early this month arrested with counterfeit money amounting to over Rwf13.6 million.

 

The counterfeit notes were in US dollars (136 bills in the denominations of $100) and Rwandan francs (114 bills in the denominations of Rwf5,000).

 

Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi, said that Police also recovered other ten bundles of papers cut in the shape of size of the Rwf5,000 bill as well as machines and other raw materials he was using to produce fake bills.

Each bundle contained 100 piece of paper.

Munguyiko, who is also a student of the Independent University of Kigali (ULK) is suspected to be the mastermind of one of the rackets that currently print and distribute fake money.

Speaking to Doing Business, a cashier in Rebex forex bureau located in Remera, Gasabo District, said that for the past few months, counterfeit currency has often been spotted in the local market.

Previously, she said, counterfeit currency cases were not as common as is the case currently.

“Fake notes have become common on the market. Here we have recorded like four cases in the past three weeks,” the cashier said,

According to her, most victims say that they are not doing it purposely, and that they also get the money through different activities.

“In most cases when we detect that the money is fake, they (victims) say that they are not intending to sell fake notes and that they got the money from someone else just like the rest of us” she said.

However, “We report the cases to Police for further investigations, but we also educate the victim on how they should detect fake notes.” She added.

According to the cashier, counterfeit currency fraudsters normally have common hotspots including banks, mobile money agents as well as forex bureaus.

“For me I have been hearing it from my colleagues but it has not happened to me in past few months” Said Ernest Nteziyaremye, a mobile money agent in Kigali City.

Nteziyaremye, who currently works at the side-lines of Giporoso road to Kabeza, told Doing Business that he last encountered this challenge in September.

“Last month a woman approached me and asked me to deposit Rwf50,000 on her mobile money account. But when I took the money to the bank they told me that they were fake notes” Nteziyaremye narrated.

In most cases, he explained, the fake notes are hidden in between real notes.

“It is today to detect that the note is fake especially when it is at night. Because most of the time they hide the fake notes in between the real notes to confuse the agent”, he said, “Today, before I keep the money I normally double check to see whether the notes are real”.

Much as the practice is becoming common in the local market, article 269 in the penal code says “any person who, fraudulently counterfeits, falsifies or alters coins or bank notes which are legal tender in Rwanda or abroad, notes issued by the Treasury with its stamp or brand, either banknotes or alike that have legal tender in Rwanda or abroad, or one who introduces or issues in Rwanda such effects or notes with knowledge that they are forged or falsified, commits an offence.

Upon conviction, the offender is liable to an imprisonment term of not less than five years and not more than seven years.”

Attempts to get a comment on the matter from the Central Bank were futile as they were yet to respond to Doing Business by press time.

eashimwe@newtimesrwanda.com

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