By Jacob Mutisi
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak counterfeiters of United States dollars and South African rands have now moved from the streets to online.
There is now always a website that is ready to sell and deliver whatever amount of counterfeit United States dollars or South African rand one requires.
Zimbabwean authorities should find a way to either detect and block these counterfeit money-making and vendor websites from being accessed in Zimbabwe and work with other law enforcement agencies to stop this illegal method of doing business.
Africa has become a major destination for counterfeit money and pirated goods and there are a lot more people who are prepared to take the risk and deal in counterfeit money.
Many in Zimbabwe have reported cases where they have been robbed of their hard-earned money when they attempt to buy US dollars or South African rands on the streets only to be given counterfeit notes in return for their Zimbabwe dollars.
According to the South African Reserve Bank in its annual report for the 2020/21 financial year, it measured fake money at 5.68 parts per million.
In the previous year that number had been 10.76 parts per million, a decline of 47% in the incidence of counterfeit money in one year.
Some of that money filters into Zimbabwe which has its major trading currency as the United States dollar.
Zimbabweans have become so desperate due to the country’s economic challenges and the allure of counterfeiting is obvious, making doing business risky as the country is awash with counterfeit notes.
Imagine, if one could do it without getting caught, if one is able to print their own money and buy whatever they want with it.
Counterfeiting is the ultimate technology for criminals who want to get something from nothing. In the past counterfeiting was a difficult and expensive endeavour to start. It required large printing presses and the ability to cut intricate designs by hand into metal plates.
But with advanced technology, it is much easier to create counterfeit bills. As the world becomes smaller and easier to travel more and more people are discovering advanced technologies every year.
If one is prepared to break the law, they can create fake money with just a PC, a scanner and a colour inkjet printer in about 10 minutes.
There are also websites who publicly advertise fake Canadian dollars, British pounds, euros, Australian dollars and US dollars.
In South Africa there is a website where you can buy South African rands.
Their advert clearly says, “We produce and sell quality undetectable counterfeit money all around the world. We print anti-counterfeit banknotes for all currencies. Here is your chance to be a millionaire. PRICE $500 for 10 000 notes, $700 for 15 000 notes, $900 for 20 000 notes, $1000 for 25 000 notes.”
They even have the audacity to include their contact telephone numbers and all the other details that one may require to contact the counterfeiters.
Zimbabwean authorities should find a way to either detect and block these counterfeit websites from being accessed in Zimbabwe and work with other law enforcement agencies to stop this illegal method of doing business. Zimbabwe needs a law enforcement unit whose role is to monitor the “dark internet” where some of these illegal activities are prevalent.
Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution for Engineers.