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posted by n1 on Sunday May 11 2014, @06:44PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the incentives-for-aspiring-counterfeiters dept.

Rhonda Schwartz reports that master counterfeiter Frank Bourassa has been allowed to walk free after turning over a huge quantity of fake US $20 bills that authorities say are "not detectable by the naked eye." "I'm safe, absolutely," says Bourassa after paying a $1,500 fine in Montreal, Canada, and spending only a month and a half in jail after Canadian authorities agreed that they would not extradite him to the United States for prosecution. "They can't do nothing about that." Bourassa's fake $20 first showed up in Troy, Michigan in 2010 and US and Canadian authorities spent almost four years tracking the source to Bourassa. "To detect the counterfeit on this one is very difficult," says RCMP investigator Dan Michaud. Bourassa says he spent two years studying the details about currency security on the website of the US Secret Service to learn how to produce his fake money. Although special security features were added to US $100 bills in 2010, security features added to the $20 in 2003 have not been updated since then. US bills are "the easiest of them all" to counterfeit says Bourassa, because they are not printed on polymer. "Even third world countries in Africa have polymer bills already."

The RCMP and the US Secret Service raided Bourassa's home, but he still had a card to play because authorities did not know where the remainder of his special paper and fake twenties was hidden. In the end, Bourassa agreed to turn over the remaining fakes and paper in return for a deal his lawyer worked out with Canadian prosecutors that let him walk free. Bourassa regards his accomplishment as a complete victory over the United States government. "It was, like, screw you."

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by rancid on Sunday May 11 2014, @06:49PM

    by rancid (4090) <reversethis-{ten.rotliam} {ta} {izbas}> on Sunday May 11 2014, @06:49PM (#41872)

    He probably dropped dime on the criminal organizations he sold the counterfeits to.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11 2014, @07:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11 2014, @07:18PM (#41875)
    • (Score: 1) by Dunbal on Sunday May 11 2014, @07:43PM

      by Dunbal (3515) on Sunday May 11 2014, @07:43PM (#41879)

      "Who did the Federal Reserve give the money to?"

      Themselves of course. So that they can lend it out to banks - their banks, since the Fed is basically a bank owned private cartel. They lend it out at near zero interest and give you mortgages at 5+ % interest. Then they use it to pay out of ATM's (pretty much the only way actual cash is dispensed nowadays) but of course they tack on service charges so the actual network is paid for. But the REAL money is in the derivatives they create and sell to "investors" (read - greedy people who want to get rich quick). So the money moves from bank accounts to derivatives and when the market tanks, it simply evaporates. That's the REAL shell game.

      • (Score: 1) by caffeinated bacon on Monday May 12 2014, @02:15AM

        by caffeinated bacon (4151) on Monday May 12 2014, @02:15AM (#41948)

        It's easier than that, They can take the low interest money and just buy treasuries that pay more for practically no risk whatsoever.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by evilviper on Sunday May 11 2014, @07:42PM

    by evilviper (1760) on Sunday May 11 2014, @07:42PM (#41878) Homepage Journal

    His account of events is dubious.

    If he had pulled one over on the US, then there would be US warrants, ensuring he would be arrested upon setting foot in US. But TFA says:

    "U.S. Secret Service Deputy Special Agent in Charge Stuart Tryon [...] confirmed that Bourassa is not wanted in the U.S."

    Sounds like the US agrees with Canada's actions, here.

    And TFA suggests he's taking full credit for everything involved, now that he's got immunity, to protect the organized criminal enterprise that actually did all the work.

    Also, the BEST counterfeiters out there NEVER get caught.

    --
    Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 2) by Angry Jesus on Sunday May 11 2014, @08:03PM

      by Angry Jesus (182) on Sunday May 11 2014, @08:03PM (#41887)

      I've seen the guy interviewed and he sure comes across as an idiot redneck full of hubris. It could be an act, but it really doesn't look like he's got what it takes to be a criminal mastermind.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by wonkey_monkey on Sunday May 11 2014, @10:21PM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Sunday May 11 2014, @10:21PM (#41917) Homepage

    Frank Bourassa has been allowed to walk free after turning over a huge quantity of fake US $20 bills that authorities say are "not detectable by the naked eye."

    Did he pull an Emperor's-New-Clothes on them and hand over an empty box?

    --
    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mendax on Sunday May 11 2014, @11:57PM

    by mendax (2840) on Sunday May 11 2014, @11:57PM (#41925)

    Why in the name of hell has the U.S. not turned to polymer-based currency? It's not like it's a new technology. I first encountered it twenty years ago on a trip to Australia. My last encounter with it was in Mexico a few years ago. And now the Canadians are using it. If the goddamned Mexicans and the goddamned Canadians are using it, why isn't the goddamned Congress and/or the Federal Reserve forcing the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to use it? Because it's not American technology? Because Crane & Co., the makers of the paper used to print American money, is bribing Federal Reserve officials or is sending call girls to suck them off under their desks?

    --
    It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by dry on Monday May 12 2014, @12:16AM

      by dry (223) on Monday May 12 2014, @12:16AM (#41929) Journal

      Maybe the same reasons that America still has pennies and paper dollar bills? Mostly that Americans are conservative, in the proper meaning of conservative which is resistant to change and new ways of doing things.
       

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by evilviper on Tuesday May 13 2014, @12:39AM

        by evilviper (1760) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @12:39AM (#42441) Homepage Journal

        Maybe the same reasons that America still has pennies and paper dollar bills? Mostly that Americans are conservative, in the proper meaning of conservative which is resistant to change and new ways of doing things.

        Do you just hate going through the drive-thru and getting back a bunch of half-cent pieces (1793 to 1857)? I know I'm much happier with an even total, so I get back two-cent coins (1864–1873) or a three-cent coin (1851–1889).

        With big values, quarters are okay, but why an odd-numbered large coin? It makes so much more sense to give change with twenty-cent coins (1875–1878). But maybe I'm just "conservative" that way...

        --
        Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by dry on Tuesday May 13 2014, @05:35AM

          by dry (223) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @05:35AM (#42544) Journal

          What was the purchasing power of a 1/2 cent prior to the American civil war? And during the war paper money was issued, coins were rare and copper 2 cent pieces were a way to re-introduce small change without it being silver, and of course 3 cents was the price of a stamp, though the silver coin was much too small so thankfully they went to copper. 2 bits was a nice even 1/4 of a dollar as well.
          Times have changed, a pack of matches are probably a quarter now, a chocolate bar is seldom under a dollar so small change is really small.
          It's kind of funny that your examples have dates with a Euro sign inbetween, subconscious wishing?

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by frojack on Monday May 12 2014, @12:31AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 12 2014, @12:31AM (#41931) Journal

      Polymer based currency IS counterfeit-able [wordpress.com]. Its starting to be a problem in Canada.

      Its more difficult, but only because some paper money is easier, so nobody bothers attacking the hard stuff, they just go for easy. (Like Linux vs Microsoft, it was never about popularity, it was always about EASY). You counterfeit a US 20 or 100, and its good all over the world. Do the same with a Peso, and its really only good in Mexico.

      Until recently, Polymer hasn't been cost effective. The Australians finally found a much cheaper polymer process that made it worth the trouble.

      US bills are slowly approaching a difficulty level that offsets any advantage Polymer has, (although we don't know if it is cost effective).

      Credit cards and NFC will probably push folding money out of existence in 30 years anyway.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12 2014, @01:44AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12 2014, @01:44AM (#41941)

        If it is cheap to produce it is probably cheap to counterfeit. So if the Australians did find a much cheaper polymer process to produce money it is also likewise probably much cheaper to counterfeit. No free lunch.

      • (Score: 2) by mendax on Monday May 12 2014, @10:43PM

        by mendax (2840) on Monday May 12 2014, @10:43PM (#42382)

        You counterfeit a US 20 or 100, and its good all over the world. Do the same with a Peso, and its really only good in Mexico.

        You are partially right about that. I suspect that the Mexican government moved to polymer pesos is because the lower denominations won't wear out too fast. I've got some low-denomination peso notes in my collection that are almost rags. American paper money gets withdrawn from circulation before it gets that bad.
         
        But don't knock the Mexican peso. It's not considered a world reserve currency, one that central banks around the world tend to hold, but it's fully convertible and its recent history demonstrates that can hold its value well against the US dollar and other hard currencies.

        Until recently, Polymer hasn't been cost effective. The Australians finally found a much cheaper polymer process that made it worth the trouble.

        Cost effective???? Aussie and Canadian polymer notes cost less to make than their face value. So long as the face value covers the cost of the note's manufacture it should not matter much. Perhaps you are referring to the addiction that some governments have with seigniorage [wikipedia.org].

        --
        It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Monday May 12 2014, @11:27PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 12 2014, @11:27PM (#42403) Journal

          Cost effective???? Aussie and Canadian polymer notes cost less to make than their face value. So long as the face value covers the cost of the note's manufacture it should not matter much.

          Well it does matter, and quite a bit. Its easy for the production cost of any money to exceed the face value of small denominations. But that is hardly the test that matters.

          What does matter is what you alluded to previously, the problem of money wearing out. Not all polymer money has been as durable as the proponents have alleged. On some early trials the ink ran badly in warm climates, and bills would also cross-print each other in a wallet.

          Also, very few of these countries can afford to print their own money. Australia prints polymer money for many different countries. (Bangladesh, Brunei, Chile, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Western Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.) That's part of how they made it cost effective.

          There is also the problem of replacing every vending machine in a country each time a change is introduced to the folding currency. The poorer the country the harder that is to justify. So they choose to suffer the counterfeit losses rather than force a mass change on the vending and counting industry.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by deimtee on Monday May 12 2014, @03:10AM

    by deimtee (3272) on Monday May 12 2014, @03:10AM (#41958) Journal

    It's not in the summary, but the reason he walked free is the amount he counterfeited.
    $250,000,000.00 puts him in the same group as the bankers and wall street wonks.

    --
    No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Monday May 12 2014, @05:56AM

      by davester666 (155) on Monday May 12 2014, @05:56AM (#41989)

      That puts him in the minor leagues of wall street. You need to do at least ten digits to raise an eyebrow.