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Newlyweds becoming Cambodia's latest bogus currency victims.

PHNOM PENH, March 27 Kyodo

For years, Cambodians have had to put up with counterfeit U.S. currency circulating in the country and leaving unwary shopkeepers, hoteliers and restaurateurs to foot the bill when the bogus bucks are discovered at the bank.

But a new counterfeit outrage may turn out to be the final straw that gets ordinary Cambodians more concerned about fake cash.

Newlyweds are beginning to find bogus bills among the cash traditionally offered by wedding guests to get a new couple off to a good start.

And with Cambodia's riel often reeling in the currency markets, U.S. currency alone is the de rigeur gift for any self-respecting Cambodian wedding guest.

The problem, as noted by journalist Soy Sopheap who married a month ago, is some of that cash is often counterfeit.

Soy Sopheap and his bride only lost about $30 out of around $4,500 in gifts, but Chan Zea, who arranges wedding receptions, says it is not completely uncommon these days for the newly wedded to find $200 to $300 in fake bills among their gifts.

The registrars who accept the money at wedding receptions are rarely versed enough to spot counterfeit currency, but some are now wondering if a closer eye on the offerings will not become almost as necessary as is the requirement to make gifts in dollars.

Cambodian law strictly forbids counterfeiting and perhaps, if enough irate brides, grooms and their parents add their voices to those of shopkeepers and others who handle cash, the country may finally begin to rid itself of the scourge of suspect sawbucks.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Mar 31, 2003
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