More fake currency is flooding into the wallets of common man in Kochi every day.
Counterfeiters are targeting people who can carry small sums and spend it in the city unaware that they are using fake notes.
In two recent cases, fake notes were seized from foreigners who came to the city with Indian currency obtained from currency exchanges abroad. Fake Indian currency might get past foreign money exchanges as they do not have the machines to spot counterfeit Indian notes, said the police.
An Omani couple had recently arrived in the city with Rs.40,000 of fake notes. Police have managed to recover Rs.33,000. The rest is still in circulation in the city.
The police find it difficult to spot counterfeit notes in small amounts. Adding to their problems is the reluctance of some banks in giving up the fake notes they spot.
A police officer said certain banks were indirectly aiding counterfeiters by pumping the fake notes they catch into ATMs. “They have nothing to gain by alerting the police about the counterfeits. We have information that at least some banks put fake notes into their ATMs. From there some unsuspecting man on the street gets it,” he said.
This also makes it difficult to put an actual figure on the total worth of fake notes circulating here.
Apart from foreign nationals, counterfeiters are also employing local people to spend fake notes in small shops, where they escape notice.
Crime Branch officials in Kottayam have arrested four people who were spreading fake notes in small shops and other establishments. Notes of Rs.1,000, Rs.500 and Rs.100 were seized from them, said a police official.
“They were caught only because a few vigilant shopkeepers alerted us,” he said.