Border Officials Seize $685,000 in Counterfeit Currency From China

May 19, 2021 Updated: May 19, 2021

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Chicago recently stopped several shipments containing counterfeit currencies totaling $685,000 from China, the agency announced on May 18.

The shipments arrived at Chicago’s International Mail Facility (IMF) between May 15 and 17, and were destined for cities in several states including Illinois, Indiana, New York, and Kentucky. The fake currencies came in the form of $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills.

One shipment was destined for the Bronx, New York, containing 976 $100 bills. Another shipment was headed to Louisville, Kentucky, containing 101 $20 bills and 103 $50 bills. All of these shipments were manifested as prop money.

“Our CBP officers are always on the alert watching for any type of prohibited shipments that come through the IMF,” said Shane Campbell, area port director–Chicago, according to a statement.

“By stopping these shipments, we are protecting our financial institutions, businesses, and the public.”

China remains the top source of fake goods entering the U.S. market. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CBP made 27,599 seizures in the fiscal year 2019. These goods would have had an estimated retail price of more than $1.5 billion if they were genuine.

Among these seizures in 2019, 13,293, or 48 percent, originated from China, followed by Hong Kong with 9,778 seizures, or 35 percent. The top category of seized products was counterfeit watches and jewelry, at 15 percent, followed by apparel and accessories at 14 percent.

The fake money seized by CBP officers in Chicago was hardly an isolated incident.

On April 23, CPB officers in the city announced a seizure of 281 shipments containing counterfeit bills and coins at Chicago’s IMF. Ninety-five percent of these shipments originated from China.

In total, the 281 shipments consisted of 39 fake 50-cent coins, 6,345 fake $1 coins, 283 fake $2.5 coins, and 1,589 fake $100 bills.

“Counterfeiting is a lucrative business which is often used to finance illegal activities such as trafficking in human beings, drugs, and even terrorism,” stated Mike Pfeiffer, assistant area port director-Chicago, in a statement following the seizure of the fake bills and coins.

Just weeks earlier, on April 6, CBP officers in Chicago also announced they had seized more than 100 shipments—nearly all coming from China—containing counterfeit currency totaling more than $1.64 million. The shipments arrived in the United States between Jan. 1 and March 31. The fake currency included U.S. bills, U.S. coins, and euros.

For the fiscal year 2020, which spanned from Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2020, CPB officers in Chicago stated that they seized more than $10.6 million in fake money.

Chicago wasn’t the only area where counterfeit money was being intercepted. In June 2020, CPB officers in Milwaukee stopped a shipment from Shanghai to a residence in Milwaukee. Inside the shipment were 3,515 fake $100 bills.

In May 2020, CPB officers at an Express Consignment Operations hub in Cincinnati announced the seizure of a shipment containing 2,523 fake $100 bills. The shipment originated from Shenzhen, a city in southern China, and was headed to Guthrie, Oklahoma.

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