February 2, 2024
SINGAPORE – Police in Singapore and Indonesia have crippled a transnational counterfeit currency syndicate, which led to the arrest of four Indonesians.
The four men, aged between 39 and 51, were arrested in a raid in Riau province between Nov 15 and 20, 2023.
The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said it was alerted on Sept 21, 2023, to an Indonesian couple who presented a counterfeit $10,000 note at a casino in Singapore. They had allegedly tried to exchange it for casino chips to gamble.
After being told the note was counterfeit, the man produced a second $10,000 note for verification. The second note also turned out to be fake.
Both notes were held by the casino and subsequently handed over to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).
Investigations revealed that the couple had travelled to Singapore from Batam, Indonesia, that day and that the two notes were received from their business associate in Batam as payment for a business transaction.
CAD shared this information with the Indonesia National Police (INP) for further investigations.
Indonesian police then conducted three separate raids in Riau and West Java provinces, leading to the arrest of three of the suspects – aged 39 to 48 – for their alleged involvement in the counterfeiting of banknotes and distribution of counterfeit banknotes.
The last suspect, a 51-year-old Indonesian man, was eventually identified and arrested through follow-up investigations by INP.
A total of 390 suspected counterfeit $10,000 banknotes were seized.
Indonesian police also seized various documents, including 1,000 old bearer bonds labelled German External Loan 1924, as well as coins of various denominations, including one from the central bank of the German Reich, Commissioner Zahwani Pandra Arsyad of Riau Islands Police, or Polda Kepri, said during a press conference on Jan 31 in Riau.
He did not say if these were counterfeits.
SPF, in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, has taken no further action against the Indonesian couple, as there was insufficient evidence to suggest that they were aware the notes they had were fake.
Commissioner Zahwani said the four men could be jailed up to 15 years if found guilty.
The suspects, Commissioner Zahwani said, attempted to make use of unsuspecting stooges to exchange the counterfeit money for legal tender. The fakes were to be passed off as old notes.
CAD director David Chew said in a statement on Feb 1 that combating counterfeit currency syndicates requires close collaboration with foreign law enforcement agencies, and thanked the Indonesian law enforcers for their work.
Counterfeit banknotes can potentially cause large losses to victims and undermine the confidence in Singapore’s currency, SPF said.
It urged members of the public to stay vigilant and examine any notes which are not commonly available but remain in circulation as legal tender, adding that information on the security features of genuine Singapore currency is available on the Monetary Authority of Singapore website.
For those who suspect they have received a counterfeit note, SPF advised them to call the police immediately, and note the description of the person who presented the note and the registration number of any vehicle the person used.
It also urged the public to limit the handling of any suspected counterfeit note and to place it in a protective covering – such as an envelope – to prevent further tampering.