Local rackets in connivance with some Indians run fake currency factories to print rupees, which reach as far as Tamil Nadu – nearly 1,600km away from Dhaka by air and over 2,000km by road.
They sell fake notes worth Rs1 lakh for Tk20,000 to Bangladeshis, who then carry the cash to Chapainawabganj, a north-western border district, and sell the fake cash to their Indian counterparts for Tk25,000-Tk27,000, meaning the profit stands at 25 percent.
All they need to print the fake notes is a laptop, a printer and some chemicals. Then they build a team of distributors and carriers, both in Bangladesh and India.
The Business Standard came to know about this story after talking to law enforcers and some counterfeiters who have been arrested with fake currency in recent times.
Bashirullah, the leader of one such gang, was caught by the Detective Branch of police from Dhaka's Khilgaon-Bashabo area on February 16.
Two of his accomplices – Enamul and Akbar – were also arrested from the factory. Their job was to buy fake notes and sell those to Indian nationals at the border areas. But Bashirullah is not alone. Some other rackets may also be running the lucrative but risky business, according to police.
Similarly in August last year, police seized equipment used for production of fake Indian currency worth Tk1 crore from Jatrabari's Matuail area.
They also arrested three other people from the spot and recovered fake Indian rupees worth Tk26 lakh.
According to data by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), 117 people were arrested in 2019 from the capital for their alleged involvement in the fake cash business. Police also filed a total 35 cases against them and busted a number of fake factories.
When asked why some criminals have been counterfeiting Indian currency instead of the local one, police said this was due to extra precautions, awareness among people, and surveillance by law enforcement agencies.
"It is easier to make fake Indian rupees here and then smuggle them to the neighbouring country," Moshiur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Detective Branch north zone, told The Business Standard.
"People living on the edge of Bangladesh's Chapainawabganj border area fetch these fake notes from Dhaka to smuggle those to India through the waterways," he said.
Moshiur said during the investigation, the counterfeiters confessed that a group of Indian citizens had frequently been visiting them in Chapainawabganj.
He also said people involved in carrying Indian currency are either drivers of goods-laden trucks or are cow traders.
Detective Branch Assistant Commissioner Shahidul Islam said most of the counterfeiters are in their 50s, and are experts in digital technology and hence able to manufacture fake currency.
They learned the process of making and distributing fake Indian notes while serving prison sentences, said another police source.
Bashirullah was imprisoned in a drug-related case a few months ago, while Monir, one of his gang members, had been arrested in a cheque fraud case.
During interrogation, Monir revealed that a man named Durud Zaman taught them the basics of safely running a counterfeiting gang. Once Monir honed the craft from Durud, Bashirullah lured him into joining his racket.
The Dhaka-based counterfeiting racket and the Indian gang that visited Bangladesh to buy fake rupees had been under the scanner of the police for a long time.
Bashirullah would regularly communicate with two Indian citizens from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, respectively, Detective Branch officials said.
Some Indian citizens told Bashirullah that faking Indian currency in their country was risky and costly. So they were buying fake currencies from Bangladeshi counterfeiters, police said quoting Bashirullah.
Earlier in 2014, India and Bangladesh set up a joint task force and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to combat smuggling of fake Indian currency notes. The taskforce meets periodically to discuss and exchange information regarding fake currencies.
In November 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to demonetise high-value banknotes of Rs1,000 and Rs500 to fight fake currency rackets, black money and corruption.
But the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau of India revealed that in terms of value, Rs2,000 banknotes accounted for 56 percent of all fake currency seized in India after the demonetisation.
Gujarat has emerged as the hub for Rs2,000 fake notes, followed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.