Saturday, January 31, 2009

Counterfeit Encounter: My fake 50 riyal bill story

I heard about the story of a Filipino expat named Ryan Torres Anievas, 29, working in Rabigh here in Saudi Arabia, he was accused of distributing counterfeit Saudi Arabian currency. This reminds me of what happened to me 7 years ago. I almost went to jail because of that bogus 50 rial bill.

It was 2002, I was going to go to Taif (to one of our shops there), but before I went to SAPTCO in Balad, I decided to buy a big bottled water at an eatery down my apartment. Unfortunately, I don't have any smaller change that time, so I used my hundred riyal bill , I was running late so I just counted the money and head on to Balad. I was queuing inside SAPTCO terminal to get the ticket to Taif. The ticket to Taif was 30 riyals (one way), when it was my turn, I did the usual procedure, I told the person in the booth where I was going, gave my Iqama together with the money (the 50 riyal bill, it was the change from my 100 rial the Bengali guy gave me when I bought the bottled water).

And while waiting to get my ticket, I noticed the people inside the booth were whispering to each other and then glancing at me as if something was wrong. In my mind I was thinking that, maybe they thought that my Iqama was fake. I was so sure, that is what they were thinking. Suddenly, one of the guy working there politely called me to go with him inside a small office. I even saw a police officer going to the same place where I was going.

While inside, they were asking me something in Arabic which I could not understand. They were talking Gibberish to me. I told them that my Iqama is not fake and that it was the same Iqama that I used when traveling around the kingdom for the past 3 years. The guy that I was talking to realized that I neither speak nor understand Arabic that well, so he called for someone who speak English. Finally.

The new guy asked me where I got the money, I told him that the 50 rial bill was a change for my 100 riyals when I bought a bottled water at an eatery down my apartment. OMG!, then it struck me, there I realized that the whole commotion was about my 50 rial bill and it is FAKE... FALSO... FAUX!

I told them that I didn't know that the bill is fake. While talking to them, I was trying to be calm, trying to talk slowly and clearly and I was trying to make my face look innocent, [just like the cat (puss in the boots) from "Shrek the third"] well I was innocent!

And so they finally realized that I was telling the truth and let me go, after they took my telephone numbers, address and the exact place where I got that fake bill. I quickly called my friend and instructed him to go down the eatery and talk to the Bengali who gave me the bill. Then I proceeded to my destination, in Taif. Three hours late.

My friend told me that the Bengali was so scared when he talked to him. Yes, so scared that he didn't open the next day, in fact, he never open at all .

Related stories: Desert Aquaforce's post, Isla de Nebz' post, GMA News