Festive seasons bring surge in fake notes, small traders bear the brunt

HAZELEN LIANA KAMARUDIN
05 Nov 2023 10:01am
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
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The menace of counterfeit money, though not at an alarming level, has increasingly troubled small traders in the country.

Sinar's interactions with numerous traders have highlighted the prevalent issue of fake notes being circulated, particularly during festive seasons.

Hazelen Liana Kamarudin, Nor Azura Mat Amin, Muhammad Afham Ramli, Rosilawati Rosedi, and Nor Farhana Yaacob contributed to this report, which delves into the experiences of these traders and the measures they’ve adopted to combat this fraud.

In Kota Bharu, small traders report a surge in counterfeit currency usage, with RM20, RM50, and RM100 notes being the most commonly forged denominations.

Noor Azizah Jusoh, a retailer from Sungai Kelong, Pasir Puteh, recounts her multiple encounters with fake currency, especially during peak shopping times and festive seasons.

Azizah, with 12 years in business, observed an uptick in such incidents post the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Usually, they would come around the time when there are many customers at the store and things need to be done quickly.

"It usually happens during the festive season. Most of them are outsiders.

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"When caught, they claimed not to know that it was fake money," she recounted.

To safeguard her business, she invested in a device to verify the authenticity of notes.

Additionally, her experience allows her to distinguish real notes from fake ones through touch, identifying subtle differences in texture and watermarks.

"If a RM20 bill is fake, it is a bit thin and limp.

"As for RM100, the image of Yang di-Pertuan Agong can be seen very clearly on the left side in contrast to a genuine one when placed under a light.

"So far, I have not had much loss since I managed to detect it early on," she noted.

Siti, a 44-year-old trader from Pasir Mas, adopts a cautious approach, examining every RM50 and RM100 note she receives.

Having been duped twice already this year, she stresses the need for vigilance, especially during busy periods.

"This year alone, I have been a victim twice, which was last Aidilfitri when there were non-local customers who bought a drink for RM2, but paid RM100," she said.

Another trader, Din from Kok Lanas, shares the psychological impact of such fraud.

Frequent encounters with counterfeit RM50 notes have left him wary.

He often realises the deception only when depositing the money at the bank, as the automated deposit machines reject the fake notes. Though he hasn’t reported these incidents to the police, he vows to be more careful in the future.