Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, almost landed in trouble at the weekend he withdrew fake a note from an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
On Friday afternoon, Koye withdrew the sum of N3,000 only to discover one of the three N1,000 notes to be counterfeit.
The Law student withdrew the money but did not discover until he had paid a driver, who threatened to deal with him before accepting his explanation that the money was withdrawn from an ATM after seeing the debit alert. But for that evidence, he wouldn’t have narrowly escaped mob action.
“The complaint from a number of bank users is that ATMs now release fake currencies, which customers rarely discover on time because they are usually hidden among other notes, the exception being the withdrawal of single currencies,” he lamented. “Across various parts of Nigeria, fake notes were used in vote-buying during the elections and they are now in circulation.”
A Nigerian bank user Ojuse Omotayo Richmond also said he had had such experiences.
“I have a series of those experiences with fake notes, also with torn money,” he said. “That is why anytime I go to the ATM, I do not only count but also check before leaving the ATM so that their camera can capture me.”
Ben Oladoye, another complainant, said it is common occurrence in Nigeria to notice fake notes from cash withdrawn from ATMs.
Fake money is hard to identify, as the recent counterfeits look very much like the original and even have all the stamps and markers of identification. The paper texture is the best way to know counterfeits; the paper material used is different from that of real money. Also, raising it to the sun or any source of light may assist in differentiating fake from original.
Reports lodged to banks indicate the banks first view their CCTV records and then the withdrawal alerts of the bank statement before offering apologies and changing the money.
A banker who asked not to be named told SaharaReporters that banks are indeed concerned about the frequency with which customers walk into banking halls to return fakes notes withdrawn from ATM points. He noted that while the ratio of fakes notes to original notes withdrawn over the counter inside banking halls is as negligible as 1:30,000,000, that of ATM points is very slightly higher at 1:24,000,000.
“Any fake note presented after withdrawal over the counter is immediately retrieved, perforated and replaced with the customer,” he said. “Although there is no law mandating replacement of fake notes withdrawn at ATM points, banks still use their discretion to replace them.”