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Be aware of counterfeit money

| Crime and security

City police are urging residents to be vigilant when handling money as they could fall victim to a counterfeit syndicate which distributes fake notes.

Street vendors and small business owners are particularly at risk.

“We are appealing to the community, vendors and small businesses to be vigilant as they may fall prey to these syndicates,” police spokesman Captain Mpande Khoza said. He urged people to scrutinise all bank notes, from R10 to R200 bills, and to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

“The money looks genuine but one must pay more attention to the security features which are doted lines in the centre of the notes.”

Khoza said that those living and operating in Tshiawelo in Soweto are particularly at risk as a man suspected of being possession of thousands of rand in counterfeit money was arrested there last week.

Tshiawelo, Soweto, is believed to be the worst affected. The 59-year-old, who was found in possession of fake R200 and R100 notes to the value of R61 500, was arrested on Thursday after tip-offs from the community.

“Police are following up clues that the money is being manufactured in Hillbrow and Joburg CBD,” Khosa said.

The money is then distributed in Tshiawelo, where it is believed to be sold at a reduced price, he added.

Constable John Serala told The Star that a group of people collect the counterfeit money from Hillbrow and then sell it to those in Tshiawelo. He explained that a R200 note might be sold for half its worth and a R100 note would go for about R50.

A woman in Moroka, Soweto, was just one of the victims of the syndicate. In January, she reported to the police that she sold her truck to an unknown man for R40 000, but when she tried to deposit the money into the bank, she was told it was fake.

The man, believed to be a member of the syndicate, was arrested and has since been charged with the possession of counterfeit money.

Serala said the man was also arrested last year after he was found in possession of fake notes worth R8 000, but that the charges against him were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

But now these charges will be reinstated and combined with the current ones.

Serala added that police were confident that more arrests relating to the synidcate’s activities would be made soon.

“This includes those who sell the fake money and those making it in Hillbrow,” he said.

They’re also hoping the arrests will result in all the counterfeit cash being found and seized, as well as the machine that is used to print it.

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