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Notes On A Scandal

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/as...al-1776329.html

In October of 1997, a white-haired 63-year old Irishman named Sean Garland paid a visit to Moscow in the company of an acquaintance subsequently identified only by the initials "JM". Garland was a self-proclaimed Marxist who dressed like a professor and served as head of a far-left faction called the Irish Workers Party that had never elected a single one of its members to any mainstream political body. Garland's first visit to Moscow was followed by three return trips in the first half of 1998, made in the company of known criminals from Dublin and Birmingham.

Garland's pilgrimage to Moscow made little ideological sense, since Boris Yeltsin had turned the former Soviet Union from a communist state into heaven on earth for gangsters of all nationalities - and the company that Garland kept made observers wonder about the true purpose of his visits. In addition to his career in leftist fringe politics, Garland was a lifelong terrorist who had personally engaged in deadly attacks on British soldiers and police in Northern Ireland since the 1950s, and whose exploits were said to have inspired Tom Clancy's novel Patriot Games. As the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) entered into fitful negotiations with Protestant groups in the 1990s, Garland served as chief of staff for "the Official IRA" or OIRA, which rejected the idea of a peace deal in favour of the continuation of bombings, bank robberies and other politically-motivated crimes.

Garland's odd itinerary in Moscow, which included several visits to the North Korean embassy, held the key to a mystery that had baffled British criminal investigators and the US Secret Service since the early 1990s, when counterfeit US $100 bills of exceptional quality had flooded Dublin. The fakes were so good as to be undetectable by the advanced bill-checking machines used by the Federal Reserve and other central banks, and local businesses and banks in Dublin stopped accepting $100 bills as legal tender. An Irish counterfeit dealer named Hugh Todd was arrested in 1994 with a large bundle of fakes, and more arrests followed as the bills continued to circulate throughout Europe and the Middle East in the most sustained, deliberate destructive attack on the US currency on record. The source of the near-perfect fakes, which soon became known as the "supernote", remained a mystery.

The existence of the supernote came to the notice of Western governments just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in December 1989, when a money handler at Central Bank of the Philippines became suspicious of a banknote that passed all the usual tests but still felt odd. The note, a $100 bill supposedly printed in the year 1988, made its way to Yoshihide Matsumura, a Japanese currency expert whose machines for detecting fake bills are among the most advanced in the business. The bill was an astoundingly accurate fake, Matsumura decided, the best that he had ever seen - yet it did not show any of the characteristics of the advanced fakes that he had encountered from Japan and Russia.

Like the real $100 bills, the fake was printed on paper that was made of three-quarters cotton and one-quarter linen fibres, which is manufactured for the US government using specialised machinery by Crane & Co, the stationary company. The images are then stamped on the paper using an intaglio press - a piece of specialised printing machinery so heavy and expensive that only governments normally own them. The fake made its way to the headquarters of the Secret Service in Washington, D C, where it was compared to the agency's master file of 20,000 examples of forged US currency. The bill was assigned the identifying numeric C-14342, the letter "C" indicating that it was a circular, or the first in what was expected to be a series of high-quality forgeries from a single source.

Bills from the same series turned up a year later in Lebanon's Bekka Valley, leading to suspicion that the supernote was being printed in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which needed foreign currency to fund an estimated $100 million a year in donations to Hezbollah and other terrorist organisations - who, as it happened, were being trained in bomb-making in Lebanon by Sean Garland. Intelligence analysts noted that Iran had taken delivery of two intaglio printing presses shortly before the fall of the Shah, who had sent a team of 20 master engravers to be trained by the Federal Bureau of Engraving in the US.

Since the beginning of its investigations, the Secret Service has routinely declined to comment on the origins and distinguishing characteristics of the "supernote", for fear of aiding the forgers and a variety of other reasons - including the fact that the supernote represents a gigantic, ongoing law enforcement failure fuelled by the agency's early and continuing refusal to acknowledge the nature, scope and source of the threat. The Secret Service discourages currency experts from discussing identifying flaws in the supernote and admonishes those who speak to the press. Still, it is known that the first widely-distributed supernote carried the date "1988" and was distinguished by at least three flaws, one of which may have been deliberately introduced by the forgers so that they could demonstrate the difference between real money and their own fakes.

***

One internationally-known currency expert was willing to talk to me about the flaws in the original supernote for publication, in exchange for a promise of anonymity. "The lamp-post base on the back, above the "H" of "HALL" to the right of centre, has a very weak, almost nonexistent, left outline," the expert explained, referring to the back of the old US $100 bill. "On the supernote the left side of the lamp-post base is clearly defined."

On the face of the 1988 supernote, the heavy horizontal line that intersects the portrait oval just above the decorative ribbon that bears the name "Franklin" does not reach the oval, as it does on a real $100 bill. Instead, the line dives down parallel with the oval and intersects the Franklin ribbon on both sides.

While it is difficult for currency collectors to acquire a supernote, he adds, the bills are available from foreign currency dealers who often sell them at a 150 per cent mark-up so they can't be accused of passing bad notes. Experienced currency dealers are quick to spot fakes, the expert says. Money handlers often refuse to handle certain series of $100 bills because of the high percentages of bad notes, with $100 bills from the years 1996 and 1999 attracting a high degree of scrutiny. "Any one series of supernotes stays in production only a few months or a year or so before the counterfeiters have to change to keep up," the currency expert told me.

According to a recent study by two economists with access to Secret Service data, at least one in every 10,000 US banknotes in circulation is a fake. One reason that the Secret Service showed so little initial interest in the supernote is that they were found overseas, where two-thirds of the $800bn in US currency circulates.

"It's a spit in the ocean compared to what's being printed," the Secret Service liaison at the American Embassy in London, John Sullivan, told a newspaper in 1993 in response to an inquiry about counterfeit $100 bills and other fakes, whose numbers had more than quadrupled between 1990 and 1992 - from $29.9m to $137.7m. By 1994, the Secret Service still had only six agents on permanent detail overseas to deal with what had become an epidemic that worried bankers and criminals alike. In December of 1993, for example, gunmen stormed a classroom in the Russian city of Rostov and demanded a ransom of $10m in $100 bills - along with a sophisticated machine to weed out the fakes.

Loads more at the link.

Does that mean more than 9,999 are just worthless bits of paper then?

Perhaps the secret service need to investigate the fakes the FED is producing?

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/as...al-1776329.html

Loads more at the link.

Does that mean more than 9,999 are just worthless bits of paper then?

Perhaps the secret service need to investigate the fakes the FED is producing?

....Like the real $100 bills, the fake was printed on paper that was made of three-quarters cotton and one-quarter linen fibres, which is manufactured for the US government using specialised machinery by Crane & Co, the stationary company....

Obviously they can afford to stand still in their line of business.

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Also I've been thinking how much global leverage has been achieved on these fake number.

If 1 in 10000 is fake who much currency is that?

I also have a feeling that the 1 in 10000 could be an underestimate and "fake" currency in the system may be much higher.

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Superdollars have been around for years. They are made in North Korea which has a University-sized organisation dedicated to producing them. The two routes out of NK are 1) NK diplomats are given bundles of notes, not told that any are fake, and told to buy stuff for the country, and 2) via NK's only embassy - in Moscow. If you've got the right contacts you can pitch up at the embassy and get given a suitcase full of the notes which you then use to buy stuff for North Korea, and of course yourself.

This is basically economic warfare against the USA and just another reason why the Americans really don't like North Korea. :P

ETA: I didn't like the Zoe Heller book much.

Edited by Nationalist

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