Two tourists were held by Cayman Islands’ authorities for about two hours last month after they presented what some local business owners thought were bogus $100 bills to cashiers at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.
As it turned out the bills were not fake, just old.
‘We would like to apologise for the length of time that this incident took for clarification and any inconvenience that may have been caused,’ said Royal Cayman Islands Police Superintendent Michael Needham. ‘However, to put it in context, we currently have a number of counterfeit notes circulating in the Cayman Islands and we are investigating some cases.’
The incident began around 12.45pm on 21 February. Officers were contacted by traders at the Royal Watler terminal who said they were concerned that two men were attempting to purchase items with three fake US$100 bills.
Police said the problem occurred when an electronic pen used to scan bills for authenticity did not register the notes. The traders apparently became suspicious when one man attempted to pay with the older notes, and immediately after he was denied, a second man came in to pay for the items.
When officers arrived at the scene, they detained the men at the nearby customs office for further enquiries. Also, officers searched the men’s cabin on the cruise ship.
The entire process took until 2.45pm according to police. However, the Caymanian Compass has received some reports the incident took some three and a half hours to resolve.
Customs officials did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
The Compass also attempted to reach the family members of the men, who had come to Cayman on the Voyager cruise out of Galveston, Texas. No response was made by press time.
According to officers with the Financial Crimes Unit, one of the bills presented was printed in 1934. The other two were 1950’s issues.
‘The notes tendered were old and very well worn,’ read a statement from the RCIPS. Investigators confirmed such old notes would not have registered on an electronic pen scan.
Mr. Needham said police have warned businesses along the Royal Watler dock to be on alert for counterfeit currency. An RCIPS spokesperson said there has a recent spike in the number of cases involving fake bills.
‘If companies accept counterfeit money there is little likelihood that they will be reimbursed for the value of the counterfeit currency or the goods purchased,’ Mr. Needham said.
‘The effects of passing counterfeit currency include the reduction in the value of real money, an increase in prices due to more money getting into circulation, and a decrease in acceptability of money resulting in payees demanding electronic transfers of money for payment of goods.’