Countrywide investigations have been launched into a multi-million fake currency syndicate said to be thriving in the country.
Undercover detectives are said to have been deployed in various towns in the country to investigate the fake money racket believed to be masterminded by both international and local racketeers.
The detectives are trying to establish the source of the raw material and expertise behind the printing of fake shillings and dollars being circulated in different parts of the country, security officers aware of the investigations indicate.
In Western province police are said to have recovered more than Sh10 million in fake dollars and Kenya shillings following a more than three-week operations.
Western Province deputy provincial CID chief Mr Musa Yego, confirmed the recovery and said the fake money was in circulation in Kakamega, Butere and Bungoma Districts.
“We have intensified the war against fake money in Western province and so far we have recovered more than Sh10 million and arrested numerous suspects who we have arraigned in court,” he said.
Mr Yego said apart from dollars most of the fake notes being circulated in the region are in thousand and two hundred shillings.
In Kisumu, eight suspects were arrested last month in connection with the fake money syndicate.
According to Kisumu OCPD, Mr John Mwinzi, their investigations had revealed that the syndicate was being masterminded by foreigners mostly from West Africa.
“Our initial investigations show that the foreigners who are experts in this business source the raw material and recruit Kenyans into the racket,” he said.
Ongoing investigations have revealed that fake shillings and dollars are in circulation in nearly every town in even in rural areas, a development that has baffled financial experts and security agencies.
Financial experts say a fake currency syndicate can only thrive in a situation where there is availability of raw material, equipment and expertise to facilitate such an enterprise.
They add that printing of fake money can only be successful if racketeers are in possession of certain security features of the money they are printing.
The ongoing investigations aim to identify the masterminds behind the racket and how they obtain the raw material, equipment and experts to print the fake currency.
Several people in different parts of the country mainly businessmen, politicians and workers are said to have fallen prey to the antics of the syndicate after selling property and being paid with fake money or being duped into parting with millions after being promised that it could be doubled.
Some victims of the racket have revealed how they were forced to take loans 'so as their money could be doubled’ after being promised that the money they printed could not be detected by machines in banks and other financial outlets.
However, reports indicate that indeed some of the fake money being circulated by the syndicate cannot be easily detected as fake because they have all the features of genuine money apart from a duplicate serial number of other notes in circulation.
This development is raising queries whether the racketeers could be having templates for the Kenya shillings denominations being printed in different parts of the country.
However, investigations indicate that the fake money has not found its way into the local banking system although there have been reports that some customers in a number of banks have reported some money they had withdrawn being rejected as fake.
It is suspected that the fake money racketeers have been trying to use bank employees to help them 'clean the fake currency’.
In Kisii, police said they have seized more than Sh4 million in fake currency and arrested scores of people since last year.
Area police boss, Mr Peter Njenga and his CID counterpart, Mr Issa Mohammed, said they had intensified the war against fake money in the area.
Mr Njenga said most of the fake money seized by police in the area include fake dollars and local currency.
Mr Mohammed said police were on high alert and were following any leads they received on the fake money racket and taking remedial measures.
Mr Yego said their investigations had revealed that the fake money was not being printed in some towns in the country but was being circulated through courier services.
“We have in the recent past intercepted fake money amounting to Sh3 million that had been dispatched to Kakamega through a courier service,” he said.
Mr Yego said investigations into the racket were going on not only in Western province but in neighbouring towns of Kisumu, Eldoret and Kitale.
He said cattle traders have also been victims because the crooks have been using the fake money to buy livestock which they later sell to 'clean the money.’
Additional reporting By Benson Amadala, Benson Nyagesiba and Abiud Ochieng