Money exchange houses in the UAE have urged residents and visitors to be cautious against becoming carriers of counterfeit bills that could unknowingly make it into their wallets while travelling.
While it is difficult for laymen to identify fake bills, they urged the public not to exchange currencies from dubious sources who typically offer better rates the world over.
They said residents and visitors should make it a point to go only to authorised exchange houses and also retain receipts of any transactions they have.
“Wherever you are in the world, one should always carry out transactions with reputable money exchanges,” he said.
A senior manager at Ahalia Exchange said, “Fake currencies sometimes make it to our cashbox. Often, it is the innocent people who land in trouble because as a procedure we have to report the person to the police.”
He said frequent travellers should never seek currency exchange in small hotels or from illegal agents who offer more attractive exchange rates. “People should keep the receipts for all currency exchanges done abroad so that they can produce the proof of the source in case of a police investigation,” he added.
A legal source said there have been incidents in the past where unsuspecting customers have ended up on the wrong side of the law by trying to exchange foreign currencies that happen to be fake.
An official at the Wallstreet Exchange, another leading currency house, said staff handling cash transactions and remittances are well-trained to identify fake bills.
“Most experienced staff know a bill by the touch and feel of it. We also use the most advanced technologies to intercept counterfeit currencies. But sometimes fraudsters come up with more sophisticated machines to print the fakes,” he said.
Tips to stay safe:
-Never approach illegal agents at hotels or other public places who offer help with money exchange.
-Don’t be lured by higher exchange rates as the source could be unreliable
-Make sure you keep the receipt of a transaction so there is some traceability
-Always, deal with a reputable currency exchange.