Two men have been taken into custody for their alleged ties to a money counterfeiting ring, police said yesterday.
One suspect is a temple master surnamed Hsieh (謝). About NT$3.6 million (US$118,409) in counterfeit US banknotes was found at his temple in Taoyuan, the Criminal Investigation Bureau said in a statement, adding that the other is a Taichung resident surnamed (高).
Hsieh, 68, has been in detention since late last year, International Criminal Affairs Division officer Lee Yang-chi (李泱輯) said, adding that 61-year-old Kao was apprehended earlier this week after a weeks-long search, with prosecutors placing him under travel restrictions and confining him to his home after questioning.
Photo: Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times
“The seized US$100 bills are of very high quality owing to a high-level counterfeiting production process,” Lee said.
“They look and feel just like real US banknotes and can pass testing by small detectors used by bank clerks,” Lee added. “Most people would have difficulty determining if these are real or fake.”
A preliminary assessment of the evidence indicated that the counterfeit bills were of the same origin as those seized during a raid in December last year from a currency counterfeiting ring, which resulted in the arrest of five alleged members, the bureau said.
In that operation in Taipei, New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重), Taoyuan and Changhua County, police recovered US$11.04 million of fake US$100 bills made on a top-of-the-line printing press operated by a then-64-year-old man surnamed Liao (廖).
The bureau tracked down the suspects following reports by a bank in Taoyuan of receiving possible fake US banknotes, which passed initial detection, but were later found to be forgeries by more sophisticated equipment, Lee said.
The evidence eventually led to Hsieh, Lee said, adding that police in November last year conducted a search that uncovered 1,200 fake US$100 bills in his temple and detained him for questioning.
Kao apparently bought the counterfeit bills from Hsieh and went to local markets to sell them, exchanging one for NT$400, despite a real US$100 bill being worth about NT$3,000, Lee said.
“The counterfeits Kao sold were then locally resold to Southeast Asian migrant workers, who could remit US currency home,” Lee said, adding that Hsieh had sold about US$30,000 of fake bills.
Kao and Hsieh face charges of counterfeiting valuable securities, the bureau said, adding that an investigation is under way to verify links with Liao’s operation.
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