Yesterday, police arrested a Thai man in Pattaya who successfully exchanged fake US dollar bills for Thai baht at two banks in Thailand. The suspect said he was paid 2.5% of the cut to commit the crime.
Police seized 759 counterfeit US dollar bills upon arresting 54 year old Nawat Singhawak in Chon Buri province’s Bang Lamung district yesterday.
First, Nawat strolled into a Kasikorn Bank (K-bank) branch in Mae Sot in Tak province, northern Thailand, with 99 fake US dollar bills. K-bank employees didn’t realise the banknotes were fakes and exchanged them for 373,083 baht.
Nawat deposited the money into his ’employer’s’ bank account and was paid around 100,000 baht for his work.
Then, Nawat committed the crime again at Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) in Surat Thani province in southern Thailand. Police didn’t reveal the damages done that time.
It wasn’t until SCB had already exchanged and given Nawat the money that they realised the US dollar bills were fakes. The staff filed a complaint with the police leading to Nawat’s arrest yesterday.
The suspect claims he did not make the fake banknotes himself. He said he received them from a man named Sirimongkon from Mae Sot in Tak province. He said he was simply hired to exchange the notes for 2.5% of the earnings.
A representative from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Gary J. Peterson, joined the police to investigate the matter. He inspected the fake bills and said that, while they looked realistic, they could be detected by a banknote detector. The bills looked like dollars to the naked eye but were missing some important details to legitimate them.
Peterson added that the fake dollar bills could affect the economic system and credibility of the US dollar. The U.S. Embassy was pleased that Thai police could arrest the suspect to reduce Nawat and his accomplices from causing more economic damage.
Nawat was charged with violating Section 244 of the Criminal Code regarding currency: “whoever acquires or possesses counterfeit currency shall be punished with imprisonment from one to 15 years and a fine from 20,000 to 300,000 baht.”
Kasikorn Bank and Siam Commercial Bank did not make a public statement on the matter.