Fake currency peddlers now buy SB accounts

Cases unearthed in City, Ramanagara
Last Updated : 10 September 2010, 09:42 IST
Last Updated : 10 September 2010, 09:42 IST

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The Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has unearthed at least two cases in the state in which SB account holders sold their bank accounts along with debit cards to anonymous buyers—one for Rs 20,000 and the other for Rs 10,000.

The CID has involved the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and their investigations have revealed that the two cases are part of a sophisticated method which helps the anonymous buyers to push in fake currency notes into the Indian economy without inviting the risk of being easily detected.

The different pieces of the modus operandi puzzle that the CID has been able to put together indicate that once the accounts are “bought”, the buyer deposits small sums of money in large denomination notes in them. The counterfeit currency enters the circulation and the person operating the account then uses the debit card to withdraw genuine Indian currency.

“It seems to be a trend and investigations suggest there could be international linkages,” Karnataka's CID chief D V Guruprasad told Deccan Herald. The CID’s inquiries with its counterparts in other states have revealed that this modus operandi to flood the economy with fake currency is a countrywide phenomenon.

Digging deeper

Concerned over the findings, CID and IB officials are working in tandem to dig deeper into the savings bank account selling racket to find out if terror networks or international financial criminal syndicates are at the centre of it.

They have written to the Reserve Bank of India to take immediate steps, including tightening of SB account opening rules and regulations to avoid the sale of accounts and also to shield the banking system from being systematically sabotaged. The individual banks have also been advised to cancel the two accounts forthwith.

IB sources disclosed that the two cases which have come to light recently were in Bangalore and Ramanagara. In the first case, the CID, while tracking the trail in a separate investigation that was being pursued by the agency’s cyber crimes cell, stumbled upon a Mizo student’s account in a Delhi bank. Subsequent investigations threw up startling but interesting information.

The Mizo student had completed his studies in Delhi a month back when he was approached by a person who offered to buy his account for Rs 10,000. The account holder, intelligence agency sources said, readily agreed. CID sleuths tracked him down to Aizwal where he admitted to have sold his account, along with his debit card, to someone whose name he could not recollect.

The second case was unearthed in Ramanagara where the police detected large deposits of fake currency notes in the account that had been purchased from the original holder for Rs 20,000. The CID has not made any arrests so far, but the original account holders could be made co-accused in the cases.

The CID’s larger investigation involving the entry of fake currency notes into Karnataka has led its sleuths to West Bengal and Jharkhand. Four prominent gangs specialising in smuggling in counterfeit notes, which have been found to be of “very high quality” and manufactured in some Gulf countries, including Dubai, operate from the border district of Malda in West Bengal. These gangs have been identified as: Sattar, Absar Ali, Rashid and Zaheer.

Each gang employs a maximum of ten couriers who go across to Bangladesh and smuggle in the fake notes which are usually of the Rs 1,000 and Re 500 denominations.
For every Rs 100,000 in fake notes that are pushed into India, gangs operating in the border districts of Bangladesh receive Rs 33,000 from their Indian counterparts.
The “exchange rate” for one lakh high quality Rs 1,000 notes is Rs 50,000. In many of the cases that have occurred recently, people from West Bengal, especially Malda act as carriers of fake currency to Karnataka.

They usually take the rail route and settle down as carpenters, masons, porters and other daily wage earners in places like Chitradurga, Koppal, Yadgir, Haveri, Hubli-Dharwad, Srirangapatna, Mangalore and Bangalore.

Initially a few fake notes are used to make small purchases, but once the stock is pushed into the local economy, the couriers return to Malda and Jharkhand to bring back fresh bundles of counterfeit notes.

In one case near Bangalore, the CID found that the “proceeds” obtained by entering the fake notes in Karnataka were transferred to West Bengal via normal banking channels.

Published 09 September 2010, 19:18 IST

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