Police in Calvert County, Maryland, have become the latest authorities to warn of a new forgery trend from China that could rip off the unsuspecting and unobservant.
The imported fakes, however, aren’t Gucci rip-offs or pretend iPhones. They are 20, 50, and 100 dollar bills.
Spotting the fakes, which have increasingly surfaced in the United States in the last two years, isn’t hard. The scam appears to rely on the victims not paying attention.
The fake notes have pink or purple Chinese lettering on them, and a number of obviously incorrect features.
In the last few months there have been several police reports from across the U.S. of such bank notes being used to defraud people. Police in Australia and Canada too have reported the trend.
With the fake $100 notes being sold on ebay and other sites for as little as $10 for a pack of 100, it is perhaps not surprising that some criminals are willing to try their luck. The notes are the same size as the real thing, and at a glance might well be mistaken for the real thing.
The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, in Maryland said on Nov 30. that it has had multiple calls for counterfeit currency resembling United States currency with Chinese writing printed on the front and back.
“The counterfeit bills are sold on the internet as Chinese banknotes,” said a statement on the sheriff’s office website. “They come in lots of 100 pieces and are sold for $16.99. Some of the notes have duplicate serial numbers printed on the front.
“Chinese bank tellers use the banknotes when learning how to count American currency.”
These notes appear to be used in China to avoid the risk of trainees practicing with real Chinese currency and stealing it.
Some Chinese words written on the bill translate as “not to be used as real currency” and “bill to be used for counting practice.”
However, the notes are now widely available for sale on websites such as ebay—both from China and from within the United States.
Investigations into counterfeiting are overseen by the Secret Service. “Since its inception in 1865, the Secret Service was created to investigate and prevent counterfeiting,” states the official website. It later evolved into the broader agency we know today.
The agency said that the threat to the U.S. financial system has grown in recent years.
“Advances in technology, the availability of scanning and printing devices and the adoption of the U.S. dollar by nations as their legal tender have exacerbated the threat. To counter these threats, the Secret Service focuses on strategic international investigations targeting counterfeiters and their distribution networks,” says a statement from theU.s. Secret Service website.
As a contributing author for the website Criminal Defense Lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, Peter Followill said that counterfeiting that occurs outside of the United States is punished identically to counterfeiting that occurs inside the nation’s borders.
There are many cases of more sophisticated, large-scale attempts at counterfeit note and coin production in China, which are much harder to detect.
In comparison, the scam with the Chinese ‘training notes’ appears to be small-time opportunists.
But the phenomenon that has grown over the last two years, suggests a Google search of the years 2017, 2016, and the previous years.
“It’s the largest trend we’ve seen over the last couple of months,” said Commander Chuck Mulligan of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, in Florida, according to News4Jax on Nov. 28.
Back in May in Birmingham, Michigan, police said they were handed a bill that looked real but had Chinese writing in pink and purple ink, according to Homelife.
Just a few days ago police in Putnam County, and St Johns County in Florida were warning of the problem of the Chinese notes, after making two arrests and are still seeking the ringleader of a counterfeit group.
— Danielle Avitable (@DanielleANjax) December 1, 2017
In August, police in central Texas reported an increase in counterfeit bills with Chinese writing. Other cases have been reported over the last few months in Ohio, Tennessee, Arizona, and Minnesota.
Technically the fake notes break the regulations around counterfeiting, as they are too similar in size and appearance. If they were passed along innocently, however, then the giver might still escape conviction of fraud. Experts said it is the intent to deceive, which is key in the eyes of the law.
In 2016, the Secret Service prevented over $64 million in counterfeit money from circulating. In 2015 CNBC reported that $147 million in counterfeit currency.
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