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2 nabbed for selling fake silver dollars

Two men have been arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for selling 500 pieces of fake US silver dollars to customers of money changer shops in Manila.

NBI officer-in-charge Nestor Mantaring said charges of selling bogus coins have been filed before the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office against Hakim Banto and Jamil Sultan, both natives of Maranao and residents of Quiapo.

According to US authorities and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), this was not the first time that counterfeit US coins have been discovered in the country. Old US coins have reportedly been found in Singapore and the Philippines, but even the fakes found in Singapore were reportedly exported from the Philippines.

Head agent Allan Contado, of the NBI-Intelligence Special Operations Division (ISOD), said the first discovery was made five years ago, but at that time the BSP could not conduct an examination because they had no point of comparison.

This time, they were able to determine they were fake," Contado.

Bogus coins were being sold at P300 per piece.

The silver or trade US dollars confiscated by the NBI numbered around 500 pieces and were made to appear to have been manufactured in 1885.

A genuine US silver dollar and trade US dollar measures 38.1 millimeters in diameter and weighs 26.73 grams and 27.22 grams, respectively. The fake coins weighed 20 grams.

Special investigator Marvin Matamis said that in February this year, they received information that a syndicate was peddling bogus peso and dollar bills as well as US coins. The suspects usually roam in the vicinity of Ermita and Mabini, where many money changer shops are located.

Last Dec. 2, Matamis was at one of the shops when he saw Banto. The suspect approached a foreigner and offered to sell him "collector’s coins" for P300 each.

Matamis pretended to show interest and bought three pieces for the agency to examine.

The suspect called the agent a few days later and asked if he was interested in purchasing 500 more old coins.

The NBI immediately set up an entrapment operation and dusted several P50 bills with fluorescent powder.

The agent met the suspects at a fastfood outlet on UN Avenue, where they were apprehended after the payment was made.

The coins are now in possession of the NBI.

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