In a heavily reprinted AP story out of Lima, a 13-year-old boy was arrested during a raid on a large counterfeiting operation. The boy was caught with almost three quarters of a million in fake dollars and euros; this led to the revelation that Peruvian counterfeiters were finishing each bill by hand.
The Secret Service claims that, through cheap criminal labor, counterfeiting gangs in Peru have overtaken Columbia as the number one producer of bogus bills in the world. The Service has had to open its fourth permanent office in Latin America to counter the Peruvian counterfeiters; over 50 individuals have since been arrested for counterfeiting.
The Secret Service estimates the amount of fake money seized from Peruvian counterfeiters at $103 million, and the Peruvian counterfeiting process is often more convincing because they finish each bill by hand. Speaking about one of the seized notes, a Secret Service officer from the U.S. Embassy (who spoke on a condition of anonymity) said that the bill was “a very good note… they [Peruvian counterfeiters] use offset, huge machines that are used for regular printing of newspapers or flyers… [then] once a note is printed they throw five people [at it] and do little things, little touches that add to the quality.”
The Peruvian bills go just about everywhere, including the States, Argentina, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The United States gets counterfeit $100’s, while the rest of the nations get the fake $10’s and $20’s. The chief of the Peruvian police fraud division, Col. Segundo Portocarrero, has said that Peru became attractive to counterfeiters with the United States’ constant interference with Colombian politics through drug interdiction.
“[Counterfeiting] is more profitable than cocaine,” one of the investigators working for Portocarrero said, an ironic statement considering that Peru has possibly also overtaken Colombia as a cocaine producer.
If you want to know more, like how Peruvian counterfeiters create their fake income, click here for the NBC News reprint of the AP story.[Image via a Youtube video about funny money]