When a ragpicker in Bengaluru stumbled upon bundles of US dollars with a face value of $3 million, or approximately Rs 25 crore, he fainted thinking he had hit a jackpot and then began dreaming about a changed life. Little did he know, however, that not only would the notes end up being fake, but the news of his discovery would spread and lead to his boss being kidnapped.
Salman Sheikh found 23 bundles of notes in a pile of garbage on November 1 in Bengaluru’s Hebbal. “I was doing my job and suddenly saw this bag at 1 pm. I saw lots of cash. I just fainted. I have never seen so much money. I knew it was not Indian currency,” he said.
Salman waited for four days, wondering what to do with the money, before finally approaching his contractor, Bappa, on November 5. Unsure of what to do himself, Bappa got in touch with a social activist, Kalimullah, who informed the police.
Unaware that the police had become involved but having got wind of Salman’s discovery and Bappa’s involvement, a gang kidnapped the contractor on Tuesday in a bid to keep the money for themselves. Bappa says he was blindfolded and kidnapped from his house.
He was taken in a car, driven around, and tortured by the members of the gang, who wanted to know the location of the money. Bappa said he kept saying he had informed the police and given the money to them, but it took four hours for the gang to finally believe him and let him go.
He said he did not file a police complaint about this because the gang had threatened to kill his family if he did so.
Black dollar scam?
Along with the bundle, Salman had also found a letter with a ‘United Nations seal’, which read, “The economic and finance committee puts in place a special fund which was voted by members of the Security Council to assist the UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan.”
On investigating the notes and the letter, the police found that both of them were fake. “The dollars found in Bengaluru were fake. A case has been registered and investigation is on,” said B Dayanand, Bengaluru police commissioner.
What the police are trying to find out is how the notes came to Bengaluru, who brought them and for what purpose. They have found that the notes had some chemical on them, which has made them consider that the notes could have been brought to the city as part of a black dollar scam.
In such a scam, fraudsters make a person believe that they have recovered authentic banknotes that were stolen and painted black so that the authorities can’t find them. They then tell their target that they have a chemical that can remove the colour from the note and demonstrate this by switching a fake note with a real one.