<big>Don’t bank on fake money, AFP says</big>
By Lema Samandar, AAP
November 25, 2010, 5:02 pm
Fake banknotes are in circulation and being dispensed at ATMs around Australia after police netted almost $400,000 in “high quality” forged cash linked to bikie gangs.
Three large commercial printing machines, more than 800 counterfeit $50 notes and cocaine worth $1.05 million was seized during raids in Sydney’s eastern and southwestern suburbs on Wednesday.
Six men were arrested in Sydney and one in the United States as police dismantled an organised crime syndicate with links to bikie gangs.
“The notes are a very high quality,” said Australian Federal Police (AFP) commander David Steward.
“I do want to just encourage people to take care when they’re using ATMs particularly and they’re coming across $50 notes.”
The multi-agency operation involved the AFP, NSW police, the Reserve Bank, Customs and the United States Secret Service.
It began in April when the Reserve Bank noticed high-quality fake $50 notes circulating in Sydney.
A month later, the operation was joined by detectives in Strike Force Raptor, set up to crack down on bikie gangs.
Nicholas Megaloudis, from Sylvania, is allegedly one of the operation’s big players.
The 39-year-old appeared in court on Thursday via videolink charged with various offences under the Crimes (Currency) Act.
Another man from Sylvania, with links to the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang, also appeared in court on similar offences.
“This is probably the most obvious example where we’ve had evidence that (bikies have had) an involvement in (counterfeit),” said Acting Chief Superintendent Mal Lanyon, director organised crime directorate.
“Outlaw motorcycle gangs represent organised criminal groups, as a result they’re very fluid and they’re prepared to move across a range of criminal activity.”
A 40-year-old Campsie man is also in custody after appearing in court on Wednesday while a 33-year-old Vaucluse man and a 37-year-old Caringbah man were given police bail.
In addition to the fake money, police seized three kilograms of cocaine that was allegedly bought with counterfeit cash.
Tim Okkerse, 34, from Bondi, appeared in court charged with attempted possession of the drugs, which have a street value of more than $1 million.
At the same time, the US Secret Service arrested a 36-year-old Australian in San Francisco and seized more than 900 counterfeit $50 notes.
Another 6000 counterfeit notes were found during the investigation, taking the total number of notes seized in both countries to 7700 or $385,000.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) says if people detect fake money they should handle it as little as possible and store it in an envelope before reporting it to state or federal police.
The notes are softer and lighter than the genuine items, and the southern cross on the translucent window can be scratched with fingernails.
http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/8391446/dont-bank-on-fake-money-afp-says/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;