Members of the public, especially shop owners and banks, have been put on alert about counterfeit money circulating in the country.
On Wednesday, a fake hundred-tala note was discovered by a cashier at the Frankie’s Wholesale.
The matter was then reported to the management and staff of Frankies Wholesale.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, the Financial Controller of Frankies Wholesale, Ray Hunt said the matter was then reported to the Central Bank of Samoa.
“There is no big difference between the fake money and the actual note,”said Mr. Hunt.
“It’s a good thing our cashier was able to identify and know the difference. The only difference is that the counterfeit note is a little smaller compared to the genuine note. But you can’t really tell unless you put two notes together.”
Gafatasi Hunter Patu, of the Central Bank of Samoa, said the matter is not a new issue.
“We’ve always had the issue of counterfeit notes being reported,” he said.
“However, it is quite recently last month and the beginning of this month that we have begun to see an increase in the trend.”
The C.B.S has been receiving counterfeits from shops, supermarkets and night clubs, said Gafatasi.
“The ones from night clubs is evident because it is easy to sneak it in because of the dark lighting as well as the state of intoxication.”
According to Gafatasi, C.B.S has partnered up with the Ministry of Police to catch the culprits.
He admitted that it will take some time investigating such crimes “because counterfeit crimes are not an easy crime to identify in terms of apprehending the perpetrators,” he said.
However, he is confident they will find a way to put a stop to it.
“There may be a 100 ways to counterfeit, but there are a 101 ways to catch them and bring them to justice.”
“With the invaluable assistance of the police, we have managed to bring some counterfeiters to justice in the past. At present, it may take some time for us to identify it, but it will be a matter of time before the police catches and apprehends the perpetrators.”
Producing counterfeits and presenting it to the public is very illegal, said Gafatasi,
“The penalty upon conviction is a fine not exceeding 1,000 penalty units or a maximum of 14 years imprisonment, or to both. 1 penalty unit is equivalent to $100.
“For the purpose of clarification, if you have assisted in any way in producing counterfeits and presenting it to the public and doing shopping with it, you are still liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. If there is found that you had some form of connection with the offending, you will be captured under this provision.”
The matter is under investigation at the moment and there is a possibility that there are few counterfeit being circulated around town.
How can the public differentiate a fake note from the original one?
Here’s what Gafatasi said:-
1. Texture – the feel of a real note is very different from a counterfeit. Real notes use that real currency paper and has that special feel. Counterfeiters use A4 paper which is pretty rough and rugged. Just by touching and feeling it can give a counterfeit away;
2. Plastic Window in $100 and $50 tala notes – there is a plastic window on the side of these notes, it is see through. Counterfeiters can’t duplicate this because they use only A4 paper, they can’t inject the plastic part in it. So make sure to look out for this plastic window.
3. Vertical thread on the side of $20, $10 and $5 notes – there is a special thread that looks like ‘foil’ that runs vertically on the side of these denominations. In this thread are the initials ‘CBS’.
You can easily tell it’s a counterfeit if this is not a foil. If it’s foil, then that’s genuine.
“There are a lot of ways and characteristics to look out for, but these are the basic ones that you can apply every now and then in checking your money.”
The Public is hereby advice to inform the Central Bank of Samoa if they ever come across a counterfeit for investigation.
“Please note that the counterfeit money has no value and should not be used for shopping or accepted in any form of trade. Once a counterfeit is identified, please report it to C.B.S. Should you still use a counterfeit, and then you may be liable to the maximum 14 years imprisonment penalty,” said Gafatasi.
Lastly, he wants to inform the public “to please be vigilant and alert at all times with your money".