Fake notes swamp West ahead of the Christmas period

By Staff Reporter

West Belfast is being blitzed by counterfeit £10 and £20 notes ahead of the busy Christmas shopping period.

The Andersonstown News has learned that several businesses in the West of the city have already been stung  by the scam which is a joint venture between the new ‘IRA’ group that has been set up and eastern European criminals.

The new ‘IRA’ group announced itself in the summer. It is an amalgamation between the Real IRA, RAAD in Derry and a group that is known as ‘the Independents’.

Alan Ryan, who was a member of the new group, was murdered by criminals in Dublin in September. It is the Dublin faction that the 32-year-old belonged to that is behind the fake notes.

The Andersonstown News has learned that the Dublin wing of the new ‘IRA’ have linked up with Russian criminals and are producing fake £20 Northern Bank and £10 Ulster Bank notes. The former Real IRA group hired the plates from the Russian criminals and have to date produced up to £3million in the dud £20 and £10 notes.

The notes have in turn been sold off to local criminals in different areas of the country with reports varying on the cost, although  one reliable source says that £160 buys £1,000 of the fake money.

One source told the Andersonstown News: “West Belfast is being flooded with the fake notes, with many shops and bars being the target. Several businesses have already been victims – I know of three local drinking establishments and a number of shops that have already been hit.

“Unfortunately it’s the unsuspecting businesses who have to take the fall when this happens.

“Half the time they don’t even report it to the police because they don’t want the hassle.

 

Crippling

“They’re hoping that because shops and pubs are busier over the Christmas period that no-one will bother checking the notes when they’re being handed over.”

The manager of a local club that was badly hit over the weekend said the cost of the scam was potentially crippling.

“This is the sort of thing that could cost a business and cost jobs, as if things aren’t bad enough in this recession,” he said. “You just have to look around the road to see the number of small businesses that have been forced to close because of falling trade and now we have this to deal with.

“Of course we have the latest scanners but sometimes when the bar is busy the barman is under too much pressure to serve the next customer and doesn’t have time to check every note  that’s handed to him. One thing’s for certain, we’ll be checking them from here on in.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI warned business people, staff and members of the public to be vigilant and take a few minutes to check notes carefully before accepting them. Genuine notes can be recognised by the following observations:

l Does the main printing feel raised?

l Can you see a bold and clear watermark when the note is held up to the light?

l Does the note feel crisp and not limp, waxy or shiny?

l Is the print clear, sharp and well defined?

l Are the colours clear and distinct? If in doubt, compare the suspect note against a note which is known to be genuine.

l Is the security thread continuous when the note is held up to the light?

Editorial, page 21

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