Counterfeiting money has been a problem ever since it was introduced into society. It can costs businesses around the globe 10's of millions of dollars annually from small business shops to big corporations such as Wal-Mart, Target and many more.
Fake money shows up in shops and police investigations regularly. A quick Google search can confirm this as new stories show up in the news every day, as counterfeiting is an on going problem and a natural target for criminals to get into that are looking to make money.
While there are many crazy stories around fake currency, I put together a list of five of some of the craziest counterfeiting crimes that have been committed in the past 20 years.
5. Albert Talton
One of the most famous counterfeiters in the past 20 years, Albert Talton managed to print around $7 million dollars in fake bills. What made his story unique is that he didn't even have a professional background in printing or graphic design. His team used technology you can find in your average office store such as laser jet printers and computer imaging software.
How did he manage to print so many bills? By refilling his printer cartridges whenever they ran out at his local Staples store. Eventually as with many crime rings, they got busted by federal authorities. In this case it was after a three month investigation that the ring was busted and it happened after a Secret Service agent saw one of the rings members- Troy Stroud, pass a fake $20 bill at a Popeyes Chicken Resturant.
4. Wesley Weber
Wesley Weber was one of the biggest counterfeiters in Canada before his 5 year arrest in 2001. His fake bills caused concern to Canadian authorities because of how real they looked. This even led to Canadian Officials redesigning their $100 banknotes to fight off fake currency such as the ones Wesley Weber had passed.
3. Arthur Williams
One of the top counterfeiters of our time is Arthur Williams who made some of the most realistic looking fake 1996, $100 bills. Over the course of ten years he managed to produce over $10 million in fake banknotes. To cash in some real money from his operation he would sell his fake money to gangsters in his area for 20 cents on the dollar.
One of the clever ways that Arthur Williams got away with this for as long as he did is by adapting his own versions of the security features that are found on real bills. He used automobiles paint and rubber stamps to bypass the color changing ink featured on bills.
To make the paper feel real he used papers from phone books to give the notes a real feel. The only problem with this was that it came off as too thin, so to overcome this he simply glued to pieces of the papers together to make it more thick like real banknotes are.
One flaw in his production was the micro-printing on the bills which is hard to reproduce, so he drew his own and got away with it, as this is one of the hardest features to detect. An electronic counterfeit detector machine would pick these up but since he was using these in the 1990's to early 2000's a lot of stores may not have been equipped with money detecting machines at the time and also Arthur was smart to keep his purchases on the lower end so some stores may also simply have overlooked the bills he was using at the time.
He also did travel around the country to avoid to keep himself from getting caught in any area. In many cases an investigation could lead to a bust if fake money is being spent in any one or two towns, but traveling constantly can provide a way to stay more anonymous from investigations in some crimes such as these.
In 2001 Arthur Williams went to visit his father in Alaska who was having some trouble with Hell's Angels, a gang in the area, and helped him out a little with a new counterfeit money operation.
While in Alaska, Williams began printing money again and was sloppier this time and shared some of this money with his father, who started giving away some of the money to some of his friends who were less knowledgeable on how to spend fake money. This eventually led to a trail back to Arthur, which ultimately landed him in jail for 3 years in 2002.
Since then Arthur has moved on from the crime business and runs a clothing company at the time of this post and has done some work in music.
2. Anatasios Arnout
Anatasios Arnouti had a big counterfeiting operation which was reportedly producing thousands of bills on a daily basis! His operation was so big that Detective Nick Lewis said the operation's "potential to undermine the economy of the United Kingdom and United States was very signficant."
The gang was eventually busted after undercover BBC investigators filmed the gang producing fake British pounds and US bills. After the arrest in June 2005, Anatasios got senteced to prison for 8 years on counterfeiting crimes and conspiracy to handle stolen goods.
1. Frank Bourassa
One of the biggest fake money stories in recent times was with Frank Bourassa, who got away with printing over $250 million in fake currency. Frank used a variety of techniques to make his banknotes appear authentic. He had one of the most sophisticated operations ever seen in this line of crime. He went so far as to outsource paper from mills in Switzerland and Germany so his money would have an authentic feel to it, and even coming up with cover stories to trick the paper mills to thinking it was for a legal money related operation.
He also did research into all the security features that banknotes have and made fake but realistic versions of the ultraviolet strips, color shifting eagles and watermarks, so to the naked eye if someone didn't check the bills with a counterfeit detecting machine, they would look authentic.
One of the biggest success' on Frank Bourassa's end was that after all of this, according to Frank, he ended up netting around $50 million dollars in real money and barely had to spend any time in jail.
According to U.S. law he could have gotten up to 15 years in jail so lucky for him that he got caught in Canada where he was running the operation.