The government has declared war on counterfeit money in a bid to track down criminals responsible for it.
And leading the charge is the Manager of the Legal and Finance Unit of the Central Bank of Samoa (C.B.S), Gafatasi Patu.
The good news is that according to Mr. Patu, since a publicity campaign was launched a few months back, they have noticed a considerable drop in the number of fake cash circulating.
“Some have been convicted for this offence of producing counterfeit money,” Mr. Patu said.
“The Central Bank has been working collaboratively with the Ministry of Police to conduct awareness programmes on national radio such as 2AP, Talofa FM and well as newspapers to convey our message of deterring people from committing counterfeit offences.
“The Central Bank have also produced an advertisement on national television regarding counterfeit money and how to detect it.”
Mr. Patu added that the Central Bank of Samoa has carried out a number of investigations with the assistance of the Police and the National Prosecution Office which have resulted in apprehending the culprits.
“The maximum penalty for committing a counterfeit money offence is 14 (fourteen) years imprisonment. We will continue our efforts to clamp down on these illegal practices and activities.”
The circulation of counterfeit money in Samoa is not a new issue, said Mr. Patu.
“We’ve always had the issue of counterfeit notes being reported,” he said.
However, the increase in the trend of the circulation of fake money was seen at the beginning of March, and the C.B.S in collaboration with the Ministry of Police have been working to put a stop to the matter.
Counterfeit crimes are not easy crimes to identify in terms of apprehending the perpetrators, Mr. Patu added.
However, he is confident they will find a way to put a stop to it.
“There may be a hundred ways to counterfeit, but there are a hundred and one ways to catch them and bring them to justice.”
Producing counterfeits and presenting it to the public is illegal, he reminded.
“The penalty upon conviction is a fine not exceeding 1,000 penalty units or a maximum of 14 years imprisonment, or 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.”
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.