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Money Grows on Trees

Sivi Sekula

We all know why someone would want to make their own money, but how do they do it? And how do they get away with it?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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T

he Biggest Counterfeiter Case
Frank Bourassa led a life of crime since eighth grade, making money from all sorts of illegal activities. When he was in his late twenties, he decided it was time to mend his ways by trying to earn an honest living. He opened a small factory in his Canadian hometown of Trois-Rivières in Quebec that made brakes for vehicles. Surprisingly, his factory was quite successful and Frank took home very nice earnings.

You’d think that Frank would be happy with his successful life, but believe it or not, he was miserable! True, his factory was turning a nice profit, but Frank had to work very hard — up to 20 hours a day! He was hardly getting any sleep, and was soon diagnosed with anxiety. One day, Frank decided that enough was enough, and he sold his factory.


What’s Next
While pondering what his next business venture should be, Frank suddenly came to the conclusion that he’d been wrong about work and money all his life. Until now, he’d been working hard to make money (legally or otherwise). Why not skip the working part and just make money? Literally!

 

Frank spent the next several years researching US currency. (Why US and not Canadian? Well, the US dollar holds great value all over the world, making it one of the most widely counterfeited currencies.) Ironically, Frank got much of his information from the US Secret Service’s own website, which had lots of diagrams and guides about serial numbers, watermarks, and the other cool stuff on bills. Frank also read a lot of newspaper articles about counterfeiters who got caught, so he could learn from their mistakes.

Frank learned that the best way to avoid getting caught was by selling his money in bulk, instead of spending it himself. And selling his bills in Europe or Asia would be much safer than selling them in North America.

Once he had gathered all his information, Frank decided that he would print $200 million worth in $20 bills. Now, $200 million is an insane sum for a counterfeiter to attempt to make, and no other counterfeiter had ever come close to printing such a lot of money. But Frank reckoned that if he was putting himself at risk, he might as well “go big or go home.”

Now all Frank had to do was find a paper mill to sell him the special kind of paper used for currency. This is known as “rag paper,” and it’s made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. Frank contacted dozens of paper mills all over America, pretending to be a guy called Thomas Moore of The Letter Shop in Quebec. (This shop doesn’t exist.) But the minute the factory managers heard he was looking for rag paper, they immediately got suspicious.

Eventually, Frank hit pay dirt when he found a factory in Switzerland willing to take his order. He convinced the manager that he needed to print bonds certificates on special currency paper with some security measures so that counterfeiters wouldn’t copy them (see what he did there?). And that’s how he got the factory to produce rag paper made with chemicals that would thwart security pens, complete with a security strip reading “USA Twenty” and even a watermark of Andrew Jackson (the seventh US president, whose picture is on the $20 bill).

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 682)

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