Coun­ter­feit fear forces ho­tel to refuse US notes printed prior to 2012

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - corey.robin­son @glean­erjm.com

A GUEST at a St James re­sort was left fum­ing re­cently af­ter he was de­nied en­try to the fa­cil­ity be­cause they re­fused to ac­cept the United States notes he pre­sented as pay­ment.

The el­derly man told The Sun­day Gleaner that on ar­rival at the all-in­clu­sive ho­tel, where he in­tended to spend the week­end, he is­sued a credit card as part pay­ment and of­fered to pay the rest in cash. He ex­plained that he ten­dered sev­eral US$100 bills, but the male re­cep­tion­ist de­clined to ac­cept the notes, stat­ing that the ho­tel did not ac­cept cur­rency printed prior to 2012.

“I protested and he went to the back of­fice, came back and said the ac­counts de­part­ment would not ac­cept the bills be­cause the bank would not take them. I asked which bank, but they would not say. Luck­ily, I had other US dol­lars on me that they ac­cepted,” re­lated the dis­grun­tled man.

When The Sun­day Gleaner made checks, rep­re­sen­ta­tives at three of the is­land’s ma­jor banks, in­clud­ing the Bank of Ja­maica, could not the­o­rise why the notes were re­jected on the ba­sis of their age.

Af­ter re­peated at­tempts, the ho­tel’s man­age­ment fi­nally gave an ex­pla­na­tion. Ac­cord­ing to them, the ho­tel had been a re­cent vic­tim of coun­ter­feit notes, and that the staff mem­bers were just overly scep­ti­cal.

SU­PER CAU­TIOUS

“We have re­ceived coun­ter­feit money from time to time and be­cause of this, the agents are usu­ally pretty cau­tious in tak­ing some US dol­lars. At one point there was some se­ri­ously good coun­ter­feit money go­ing around,” said the ho­tel’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“We did get some of the coun­ter­feit cur­rency and the pen was not even able to ver­ify it so it makes you a lit­tle bit su­per cau­tious. They are just cau­tious. I would want to call it that. Some­times when you get burnt, you’re just su­per cau­tious.”

Last week, a se­nior crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tor at the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force ex­plained that the coun­ter­feit pen may not be the best way to test the cur­rency.

“The only way that you can as­sure the cred­i­bil­ity of a note is when you hold it up and you see a line with the writ­ten words, de­nom­i­na­tion of the note in there. That’s the only safe way to test the cur­ren­cies,” said the in­ves­ti­ga­tor, who de­clined to speak openly.

“The pen gives a colour feed­back. Nor­mally, if it gives you a par­tic­u­lar colour you know that the note is good but a lot of things have changed, in­clud­ing the pa­pers they (crim­i­nals) are us­ing. So some­times the pen don’t work.”

RE­CENT VIC­TIMS

Dur­ing our in­ves­ti­ga­tion, at least two hote­liers told The Sun­day Gleaner that they have been vic­tims of coun­ter­feit notes in re­cent times, and that they have bol­stered their ef­forts to de­tect them. Omar Robin­son, head of the Ja­maica Ho­tel and Tourist As­so­ci­a­tion (JHTA), said that de­tect­ing coun­ter­feit bills con­tin­ues to be a chal­lenge for the ho­tels, even though the in­ci­dents may not be fre­quent. “Does it ex­ist? Yes, but not wide­spread. But you al­ways have to be on the look­out for coun­ter­feit bills. The banks pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to mostly twen­ties and hun­dreds, and oc­ca­sion­ally you may find a one-off sit­u­a­tion,” said Robin­son, while urg­ing mem­bers of the JHTA to take ad­van­tage of the new coun­ter­feit de­tect­ing tech­nol­ogy as well as rou­tine staff train­ing of­fered by the banks. In ref­er­ence to ho­tel guests who may be in­con­ve­nienced due to the pre­cau­tions, he said, “We are in an age now where peo­ple are more un­der­stand­ing when it comes to these things. So I think a lot more per­sons are be­com­ing more aware and more tol­er­ant when we have these sort of is­sues.”

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