Fake US$ transaction backfires

Crime Reporter

THREE suspected fraudsters were yesterday arrested in Harare after they attempted to buy two iPhone 14 Pro Max cellphones using fake US$50 banknotes.

The three allegedly saw an advertisement in some sections of the media about the cellphones being sold and decided to contact the seller who resides in Chitungwiza.

He agreed to meet them near Coke Corner along Seke Road and the gang produced fake US$50 notes which they handed over to the seller. The seller observed the notes were fake and alerted police officers who were nearby resulting in the arrest of the suspects.

The suspects were then taken to Harare Central Police Station.

Posting on X, one of the victims said: “The guy in formal and the guy in blue called us and said they saw our advertisement on FB, they asked us to deliver two iPhone 14 Pro Max phones to Chitungwiza but we said let’s meet by Coca Cola (along Seke Road).

“Upon arrival, we refused to get inside their car, and we had to do the deal in our car. The three of them got in, they checked the gadgets and they started counting the money. When they handed over the money to us, we noticed that they were fake notes. They tried to escape, but we managed to stop them and we drove to central police.”

However, in a video circulating on X, one of the suspects is recorded saying he had just arrived from South Africa before he met “someone” who he gave South Africa rand in exchange for the United States dollars.

He further alleged that he had wanted to buy the cellphones for some of his family members.

Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector Luckmore Chakanza said he was still checking  details of the case.

This is not the first time fake notes have been used by criminals.

In April last year, police in Kadoma recovered fake United States dollar notes with a face value of US$1 300 from a vehicle that was abandoned by three men believed to be part of a syndicate manufacturing fake notes in the country.

The three were intercepted in Kadoma after they had bought chickens at a house in Norton before they drove off in a Toyota Axio.

A report was made to the police after the victim discovered they had been given a fake US$100 note.

Police in Kadoma stopped the vehicle after being informed, but the suspects disembarked and fled, leaving the car.

A search was conducted, leading to the recovery of the fake notes.

In June 2016, fraudsters who were moving around with fake United States banknotes in Kariba which they used to dupe unsuspecting shop owners by buying small items and getting real change were arrested while stuck at an elephant “roadblock”.

The four, all from Harare, were caught while waiting for a herd of elephants to cross.

They had earlier gone to Kapenta Sales in Mahombekombe where they bought two kilogrammes of Kapenta using a fake US$100 note.

The shopkeeper gave them US$90 change before realising that their banknote was fake. She tried to inform the four men who were driving an unregistered Mercedes Benz E320, but they sped off.

A report was made to the police who made a follow up and arrested them. They recovered US$500 in fake notes. In 2011, United States dollars once flooded rural shops and vendors along the highways as criminals using unregistered vehicles with fake notes targeted them.

The crooks would buy goods using counterfeit notes to get change in genuine notes.

By then there were reports that fake United States dollar notes believed to have been from Mozambique were also circulating in Mutare.

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