Alert sandwich seller busts fake notes racket

When two men 'who didn't look rich' waved a  bundle of Rs 1,000 notes in front of Uttam Solanki to pay for a Rs 42 bill, he got suspicious. When he checked with a bank cashier nearby, his fears were confirmed.

How many times have you fretted over not having exact change, snapping at some poor seller plying his trade for not keeping any. But it turns out not having change does have an upside, which is worth over Rs 1 lakh and counting.  

Faking it: Cops suspect the two accused from Jharkhand were recruited
by a Bangladeshi gang to circulate counterfeit currency in the city.
Pic/Milind Karekar

Last morning, a sandwich seller in South Mumbai was pivotal in leading cops to bust a major counterfeit currency racket largely because he did not have change. 

Uttam Solanki (32) opened his sandwich counter at Gulalwadi in Bhuleshwar on Tuesday morning, and got to work when his first two customers arrived around 9.15 am. They ordered two sandwiches, each for Rs 15, and a bottle of cold drink for Rs 12, running a total bill of Rs 42.

When it came time to pay, one of them pulled out a crisp Rs 1,000 bill.  Solanki had barely started the work day and did not have any change on him. But his customers insisted they did not have it either, and to substantiate their claim, briskly took out a bundle of Rs 1,000 notes as proof.

That caught Solanki's attention. "I was surprised when I saw the bundle. From their clothes, they did not look like they were so rich. I smelt mischief," said Solanki.

Without saying anything, he took the note and told the customers he would go and get the change. But he stepped into a branch of Bank of Baroda nearby and showed the note to the cashier. The cashier did not take long to tell him that the note was phoney.

Solanki raised the alarm, gathering passersby, who grabbed the duo and turned them in at the VP Road police station. The two were arrested for trying to circulate fake currencies in the city.

'Rs 200 per note'
During interrogations, the accused identified themselves as Mujammil Saifuddin Shaikh (32) and Zahrul Shaikh (20) from Jharkhand, and reside near Wadi Bunder Bridge in the city.

The police seized 70 notes of Rs 1,000 from Mujammil's possession, and another 49 from Zahrul -- fake currency to the tune of Rs 1.19 lakh, not including the stray 100- and 500-rupee notes cops found with them.

Cops suspect they are part of a Bangladeshi-run gang, which they were inducted into about a month ago.

It was their first assignment, and their handlers told them that for every Rs-1,000 note they circulate, they'd get Rs 200 as commission.

Incidentally, the vigilante's deed comes a day after MiD DAY reported about the city police's initiative to tap
into hawkers, shopkeepers, and food stall owners to glean intelligence on suspicious acts around the city to beat terror.

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