On Saturday the Tourist Police received a tip-off from staff of an exchange booth, who said they had received a call from a man saying he wanted to quietly exchange some money.
Worried that they might be a target of a scam, the booth staff arranged to meet the man with the money, lawyer Wachirawich “Geng” Janejarernchaisin, 39. They then called the police, who sent undercover officers along to the meeting.
After inspecting the US$10,000 note, the exchange staff said they could not change the money immediately, but made an appointment to meet Mr Geng at the Black Canyon coffee shop in Central Festival Phuket the following day.
The staff and Mr Geng met initially without the police, who later arrived and identified themselves. They found Mr Keng had 482 of the US$10,000 notes in his possession, all of which he intended to exchange. They arrested him.
“He also told the staff that the money was from a politician who wanted to exchange money quietly. So, the money exchange staff felt that there had to be something wrong. That’s why they reported it to us,” Pol Col Jirapop Puridech from Tourist Police Region 5 told The Phuket News.
“We sent officers to the first meeting. [Mr Geng] showed the money to them and they knew straight away it was fake. But, they told him the money was real and it would be possible to exchange it the following day.”
“The suspect offered the exchange staff a good price, at a rate lower than the current exchange rate. So all of them managed to meet again at Central Festival Phuket.”
After the arrest, the notes were examined more closely and police discovered a spelling error. Where it should have read on one part of the note “San Francisco” it actually read “Nan Prancisco”. A sample was examined by US Embassy experts and declared to be fake.
Geng was charged with possession of counterfeit notes with intent to use them.
Pol Col Supaset Chokchai, Deputy Superintendent of Tourist Police, said, “Usually, US$10,000 notes are used only between banks. This is the first time we have come across counterfeiting of this kind of note.
“The suspect has admitted that more Thai people are involved in this case with him, so are investigation has now extended to catching them as well.”
According to a recent Time magazine online article, the last time a US$10,000 note was printed was in 1934, and the notes are no longer legal tender, though genuine ones are valuable – they are worth considerably more to collectors than their face value.