Pakastani arrested for passing counterfeit notes in Phuket

PHUKET: A Pakistani accused of passing counterfeit notes in Phuket was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday after police identified him from CCTV images taken along the road from Karon to Patong.

Imran Haider, 30, exchanged counterfeit notes representing 1,400 Kuwaiti dinar in return for 148,000 baht at a foreign currency exchange booth in Karon on December 28.

“The staff at the booth said they examined the notes and they looked fine, but when they rechecked them at close of day, they realized they were counterfeit and called us,” said Karon Police Superintendent Weerawat Jantarawichit.

Police traced Mr Haider to his hotel in Patong by piecing together CCTV images of him as he rode his motorbike from Karon to Patong.

“We saw him enter a hotel, and we went there to investigate,” said Col Weerawat. “Staff at the hotel gave us his name and told us he had checked out already.”

Armed with an arrest warrant, Karon Police contacted Phuket Immigration, who in turn notified immigration officials at Suvarnabhumi Airport at about 10am yesterday.

Those officers discovered that Mr Haider was in the airport and already checked in for an 11am flight to Pakistan.

They rushed to the departure gate, found him and searched him. In his backpack were clothes similar to those seen worn by him on CCTV, and 219,420 baht.

When presented with the arrest warrant, Mr Haider acknowledged that he was the person named on it, but denied the charges.

“He said that two Indian men gave him the money,” said Col Weerawat. “He had photocopies of the first page of each man’s passport. We’re investigating the men now.”

Mr Haider was returned to Phuket at 9pm last night to face charges of passing off counterfeit currency.

“Anyone who believes they have received counterfeit money should report it immediately to the Karon Police,” Col Weerawat advised.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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