Rise in demonetised currency scams has Bengaluru police befuddled


In the first week of October, the R.T. Nagar police arrested two people hailing from Odisha and recovered demonetised currency notes of ₹1 crore face value from them. The duo were trying to sell the currency notes for a few lakhs, promising prospective buyers that they would help them convert the notes into valid currency at a bank in Nepal. This is at least the fifth such case that has come to light this year, and the third since the lockdown was announced, said the police, who are befuddled by the rackets.

Some of those arrested also seem to falsely believe the exchange of old notes into legal currency is still happening in Nepal, said police officers. “We have checked with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Nowhere are these notes accepted for exchange any more” said Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant.

A probe is on to ascertain whether these notes are indeed being exchanged for legal tender in Nepal’s black market, where Indian currency is widely used, and the country is said to be stuck with a large cache of Indian demonetised currency. “But since India has stopped exchanging demonetised currency even from Nepal, it doesn’t make sense for them to buy more such notes” said a senior officer.

Two accused, Sheikh Toufil and Mudasir, who were arrested by the R.T. Nagar police recently claimed to have bought demonetised currency of ₹1 crore face value for ₹2.5 lakh from one Rehman, and were in turn trying to sell it for a higher return. “In most cases, those arrested are not the source of the currency, but carriers,” an officer said.

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A senior police officer said the demonetised currency racket has become another baseless scam such as ‘rice pulling’ and ‘two-headed snakes’ that gullible people fall for. “It is ironic that many refuse to accept the ₹10 coin, a legal tender issued by the RBI, despite several circulars, but fall for the ruse of exchange of demonetised currency.”

Another officer said caches of demonetised currency, which were in black and could not be exchanged during the stipulated period in 2016, seem to have found their way into the market for this kind of duping. Lockdown and the economic stress may have pushed more people into such desperate schemes, the officer said.

Mr. Pant appealed to citizens not to fall for such scams. “Demonetised currency is not being exchanged into legal tender any more, anywhere in the world. So I request people to alert us of gangs trying to lure them with tall claims,” he said.



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Sagar Biswas

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