Dollar counterfeiting: Chances are high that if you come across counterfeit currency copying the U.S. dollar, it was produced, not anywhere in this country, but out of all places, in Peru. The South American country has now overtaken Columbia as the number one forger of U.S. currency, reports Fox News on Sept. 5.
Squat houses and shanties in some of Peru’s poorest areas mask elaborate counterfeit operations; much of the final bill work is done absent machinery or printers by young individuals working by hand.
Peruvian police were “stunned by the skill of the 13-year-old arrested during a raid on counterfeiters in Lima's gritty outskirts, how he deftly slid the shiny plastic security strip through a bogus $100 banknote emblazoned with Benjamin Franklin's face,” says the Fox News story.
The teen was arrested and found to have a “sack” of over $700,000 in fake U.S. dollars. The boy was working with a co-conspirator, who would bring unfinished bills and Euros to the boy for meticulous detail work.
Peru has a perfect breeding ground for the counterfeiting business: The availability of cheap labor among the poor who can be easily persuaded with steady work and income, coupled with ineffective law enforcement.
Over $100 million in counterfeit money has been seized by U.S. officials within the last 10 years. Officials think they are only scratching the surface of an operation that goes very deep. The counterfeit funds are quite hard to detect.
"It's a very good note," said a Secret Service officer at the U.S. Embassy. "They use offset, huge machines that are used for regular printing of newspapers, or flyers. Once a note is printed they will throw five people (on it) and do little things, little touches that add to the quality."
"It's much more profitable than cocaine," conceded a top investigator.
According to investigators, counterfeiters can earn up to $20,000 in real currency for every $100,000 in false bills they produce, a wage that far exceeds what most could earn in impoverished areas of Peru’s capital.