MASERU — Lesotho has been identified as the source of “genuine-looking” counterfeit R200 notes worth R1 million which have sent South Africa into a state of panic.
The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa on Thursday warned businesses and the public to be on high alert for “about 5 000 very genuine-looking fake R200 notes currently circulating in South Africa”.
The council suspects the fake notes were made in Lesotho, which uses the South African rand alongside its own loti.
Lesotho Mounted Police Service spokesperson, Senior Inspector Masupha Masupha, told the Sunday Express on Friday he was aware of the counterfeit notes issue.
“We have heard some reports about this issue and it is in the hands of the South African Police Service,” he said.
“They are dealing with it.”
What appears to have alarmed South Africa is the almost perfect appearance of the note – which can even pass normal quality control tests.
“Please note the counterfeit notes do respond on the UV on both the R200 reflection and the fibre. They are very good,” said Michael Broughton, director of the Consumer Goods Council’s prevention programme.
Thami Bolani, chairman of South Africa’s National Consumer Forum, warned the scam could “cripple” the country’s economy because “non-existing money” was in circulation.
“The consumer has much to lose in the event of a counterfeit note and it does no good to the economy because services and goods are bought with money that is not real,” he said.
“If a person is given a R200 note, they need to check if it is legitimate and genuine and who the source of the money is.
“As consumers, if we play that role, we will ensure that circulation of fake currencies is minimised.”
Said Loraine Greyling, a professor of economics at the University of Johannesburg, in an interview with Timeslive yesterday: “R1 million represents an extremely small amount of the R57 152 million worth of coins and notes in circulation.
“The problem is if they managed to get it this perfect then it’s not going to stop.
“It is scary that they managed to do this.”
Meanwhile, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa has given the following tips in order to identify the fake notes:
• The round circle above the brail dots: a real note has fine, clear lines running through it. A fake note’s lines will be blurred.
• Right bottom of the leopard’s head: within the flower and its leaves, there are fine green lines. A fake note has almost fully green leaves with blurry lines.
• On the right of the leopard’s head: with a magnifying glass, the little brown lines on a real note should read South Africa Reserve Bank.
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