The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over from the State police the investigation into the seizure of “high grade” counterfeit currency to the tune of Rs.2.4 lakh from Parassala last year.

A police team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police P. Gopakumar had arrested eight residents of Malda district in West Bengal in connection with the seizure. It later turned out that they were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The case came to light when the police caught one of them while attempting to pass of a Rs.1,000 counterfeit note as an original one in a shoe-shop. He had short-changed the shop owner by purchasing a slipper worth Rs.100 and accepting Rs.900 in genuine Indian currency as balance.

The police learned that the rest of his gang-members were camped in different hotels in the city. Their handler, a West Bengal resident, had entrusted them with the fake notes to be circulated in Kerala. The suspects sent Rs.400 in genuine currency to their handler, via money transfer, for every fake Rs.1,000 they successfully injected into the domestic currency circulation in Kerala.

The accused targeted shops and other establishments, which did not have the latest fake currency detecting devices. The State police verified the bank accounts of the accused and their inquiry subsequently helped the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to arrest the handler. The State police had told the NIA and later the CBI that the counterfeit currency could be used to fund terrorist activities.

A random survey conducted by the State Police Special Branch in 2008 had found that a considerable number of migrant labourers claiming to be from Bihar and West Bengal were actually illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.