Fake currency has found its way in banks, raising concern from Kenyans who now want the matter investigated and the culprits prosecuted.
A cross-section of people interviewed by the Nation say some of their money withdrawn from automated teller machines had turned out to be fake.
Mr Patrick Gichobe, who runs an M-Pesa stall on Moi Avenue, Nairobi, says in September, a customer walked into his stall to make an M-Pesa transaction of Sh2,000 only for the money to turn out to be fake.
“He tabled a bank ATM receipt. I was hearing this for the first time because often those with fake money say they had been sent by other people or they had been paid after selling an item. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do because the money was still unacceptable,” Mr Gichobe told the Nation on Friday.
Mr Norbert Wandera has declined transactions at his electronics shop on Kimathi Lane three times.
“They (potential clients) claimed they had either been sent or just withdrawn from a bank. I suspect it could be a syndicate which sends people with fake monies to try and see if it could be accepted. But my long experience in handling money has saved me,” he said.
“The idea that one could withdraw money from an ATM only to turn out fake looked surprising. But last week, a colleague pulled a one-thousand note from an ATM on Kenyatta Avenue and when he walked into a supermarket to buy a drink minutes later, cashiers rejected the money arguing it wasn’t genuine. When he produced a receipt, they argued, while punching holes in the note, the excuse was now overused, and told him to go show it to the bank which later disowned the note.”
When contacted, head of Banking Fraud Investigations Unit Joseph Mugwanja said he was in a place where he could not comment. He asked us to contact him on Monday.
Mr Habil Olaka, the chief executive of the Kenya Bankers Association could neither respond to our calls nor text messages.
According to figures in a report released last Wednesday by audit firm Deloitte, most of the money banks lose is a result of collusion between bank staff and outsiders.
The report, Financial Crimes Survey Report 2013: Where is the exposure? shows that cash theft is most prevalent in Kenya at 72 per cent compared to cheque, money laundering or credit card fraud.
“In Kenya where banks lost Sh655.6 million, researchers found that non-management personnel were more likely to steal the money or collude and banks were reluctant to publicise the incidents.
Most banks in the country hire security agents to reload ATMs for them. This is where the collusion starts as they replace genuine notes with false ones.
How false money gets to your ATM (According to the report)
-Abundant liquidity in the banking industry lures criminals to insert fake notes in the system
-There is weak financial crimes control and those whose hands are found in the cookie jar are given lenient punishments
-Bank managers and their staff are casual towards financial crimes and give little attention to these incidents.
-Internal staff circumvent IT controls and Banks are pervasive about use of technology to secure money
-There is lack of platform to share these incidents of financial crimes