3 jailed for possessing Dh2.19b in fake euros

Dubai: Three visitors who possessed 1,094,000 notes of €500 [Dh2.19 billion)] of counterfeit currency for trading purposes, have been jailed for two years each.The trio — a Macedonian and two Croatians — conned an Indian salesman and embezzled six million Indian rupees (Dh324,000) in August.

The Dubai Court of First Instance convicted the 52-year-old Macedonian, S.B., and the Croatians, 49-year-old A.T. and 36-year-old S.T., of possessing fake banknotes for business purposes, swindling and deception.A.T. called up the salesman and identified himself as Mustafa, according to records, and then asked him to change six million rupees for euros.The Indian then wired the money to the trio before he discovered the euro banknotes he received were fake.A fourth suspect remains at large.The defendants pleaded not guilty.

Presiding judge Urfan Omar said the trio will be deported following the completion of their punishment.The salesman said the incident happened after his countryman merchant told him he needed to wire six million rupees to India and he would give him €100,000 in Dubai.“I called up an acquaintance in India and asked him to give the rupees to the merchant’s friend there. The merchant phoned me in the afternoon to confirm that his friend had received the rupees. He then asked me to meet him in a hotel near Al Ghurair Centre to give me the euros. I met the merchant, an Indian visitor and a man who claimed to be an Italian … [turned out to be A.T.].

The merchant told me the Italian person would give me the money and so I went up to the hotel’s meeting hall to take the euros. When we entered the hall, I saw a European person [absconding suspect]. They handed me two bundles of the €500 banknotes and asked me to count them manually, but I refused. I gave him back the money to count them in a special machine in front of him … then the Italian [A.T.] put the money in a sealed envelope and gave it to me. Later I was surprised to discover that the banknotes were fake.

The Italian and the other European [the absconding suspect] had cheated the merchant and me and changed the money … it was not the same money that they had counted in the machine. When the matter was not resolved amicably, I reported the matter to the police,” claimed the salesman.The merchant confirmed the salesman’s statement.A policeman said they identified the defendants from surveillance cameras at the hotel.“Police arrested the suspects at the places where they had been staying. A fourth suspect remains at large. When we raided the hotel room of one of the suspects, we seized counterfeit banknotes and the money-counting device,” he testified.