More sophisticated fake Bhutanese currency found in Jaigaon

Fake Bhutanese currencies have so far been amateur efforts that even ordinary Bhutanese can make out with the naked eye, the touch of the paper quality, the colour and the lack of some security features.

However, this now seems to be changing with the latest haul of Nu 23,000 worth of fake Bhutanese currency of Nu 1,000 denominations found from Jaigaon which is much closer to the original and around ‘95 percent similar’ to the original currency, according to a source in Jaigaon who saw the fake notes up close.

 A Jaigaon police official who was involved in the raid even remarked how similar the notes are to the original and so how could people tell the difference.

The only visible difference is that the colour is slightly more saturated and the paper is slightly thinner.

The seizure of the currency was made from a mobile store in Jaigaon named Rajesh Store which is barely around 200 meters from the Phuentsholing main gate. The owner of the store named Auedesh Gupta was taken into custody by the Jaigaon police and is currently on a 7-day remand after being produced to the Alipurduar court.

The mobile shop is one of the 20 to 25 shops in Jaigaon that illegally exchanges Indian and Bhutanese currency making a commission in the process. These days’ shops like these charge a five to three percent commission for giving INR in return for taking Ngultrums.

Last year the SSB in Jaigaon seized Nu 50,000 in fake currency from a mule trying to enter Phuentsholing via the Bhutan gate.

Interestingly, the Jaigaon police had not informed the Phuentsholing police about the Nu 23,000 case or even publicized it to the local media. However, once the Phuentsholing police learnt about such a case it contacted a senior police official in Alipurduar and then only the case became public.

A source in Jaigaon said that if anybody wants to procure fake Bhutanese currency then Nu 100,000 of such currency is sold for INR 40,000.

The source said that the fake currency is probably printed by criminal networks around the Nepal-India and Bangladesh-India border areas. They usually specialize in fake Indian currency, but the improved sophistication of the fake Bhutanese currency shows that some Bhutanese currency is being printed as well.

The source said that these networks first used the informal currency exchange outlets in Jaigaon and they in turn use vegetable merchants or transporters.

They said the main aim is not to push the currency into Bhutan, but to let it circulate in the border areas where it is accepted.

According to RMA officials, most of the fake currency found in Bhutan have been found by cash tellers in banks in Phuentsholing.

So far there is no reason for alarm as the RMA has seized only Nu 1.2 million worth of fake currency since 1974 and of the Nu 13.5 billion in cash circulation today fake currency  represents only 0.009 percent.

How to detect fake currency?

The RMA official said that to detect fake currency one should first look at the currency to see distortions, then feel to see if it feels like money, and then tilt it against the light to check for water mark, the security band and other features.

All Bhutanese currencies have water mark which can seen when held against the light except for the Nu 1 and Nu 5 note. The water mark is the portrait of His Majesty The King in the Nu 1,000 and Nu 50 notes and of His Majesty The Fourth King in the rest of the notes.

The security thread of the Nu 100, 500 and 1,000 are different with RMA and the numerical value written in small in a repeated sequence.

The currencies also have raised print which is extremely difficult to replicate. These are the RMA written in Dzongkha, denomination figures, signature, seal etc.

Shimmering stripes can be seen on the back of Nu 50, 100 and Nu 1,000 notes.

The seal on the back of the Nu 1,000 note shows two different colours depending on the angle.

The word Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan is printed in very small micro print at the right and left side and top center of the note and can be read only with a microscope.

The Nu 500 and Nu 1,000 notes are not made of paper but are 100% cotton and can undergo multiple folds unlike paper.

The bank notes of Nu 5, 10, 20 and 50 have a dark line running close to the middle when held up against the light.

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