Ersatz Currency Yet Asunder

Fake money is being printed at several places all over the world. Fortress Paper’s CEO, Chad Wasilenkoff the Bank Note Maker alerts on the ongoing operations of the counterfeiters.

The state administration for law arrested people in Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina for trying to induce forged currency into the system. The U.S. Secret Service confiscated US $8.4 million as forged currency which had originated in Peru, in the first quarter of the year.

The government estimates the amount of U.S counterfeit denominations in circulation to be  below 3 percent while Chad Wasilenkoff informs that just like the rest of the world the counterfeiters too are in step and in some cases one step ahead of the present technologies, therefore this percentage is much higher in other countries. The Fortress Paper makes Currency Notes, Passport Paper, Visa Paper and Security Paper. The CEO of Fortress Paper, Chad Wasilenkoff was speaking to the Senior Editor of CSO, Joan Goodchild, which is a sister publication of Computerworld and CIO magazines, regarding the International Counterfeiting status.

CSO: Most of the Fortress products are on the line for counterfeiting. Does each of these products different concerns?

Chad Wasilenkoff: the concerns for each country are different. Counterfeiting affects the economy of a few countries while others have a high tolerance. These countries realize that the currency is not genuine yet they are not implementing every single feature of the security protocol, hence this problem. These decisions are based on cost-benefit analysis. These countries know that the more security features they use the higher will be the cost. The larger the number if security features the larger the cost. Therefore the cost of visa stickers, passport pages, banknotes, all vary from country to country depending on their security protocol. The bottom line is cost-benefit analysis.

Could you enlist the countries with low counterfeit tolerance and how is it reflected in their currency’s circulation?

In the world of bank notes a ratio of 100 counterfeit notes to a million bank notes is the accepted limit which is an industrial standard for currency. These are the standards followed by the Euro and the U.S Dollar.

Canada saw a similar crisis five years ago where the ratio of counterfeited notes had risen to 1200 pieces per million. They enforced a few security protocols immediately. As they could not change the bank note, as designing it takes around 7 to 8 years. What they did was changed the quality and source of the paper as the quality of the paper was not up to the mark, further they even incorporated the watermark and the thread woven through and such security protocols. Now they get their paper from a European Paper Company instead of the company in Quebec. Therefore their banknotes look somewhat similar since this change, their currency rates are back to normal and the counterfeit rate is at 80 counterfeits to a million.

In which countries counterfeiting is rampant? How deeply rooted is it?

The counterfeiting of the U.S. Dollar was the largest operation about a decade ago. The centre of these activities was South America, especially Colombia. It is the job of the Secret Service to keep the dollar secure and maintain it. Therefore the secret service sent their team to Columbia to stem these operations; these operations were based underground which simply minted money all day.

One of the ways they would forge the money was to take the one original one dollar bill bleach it, scrub it with chemical agents and toothbrushes and then print the US$ 100 bill on this paper.

Now these operations are moving to Asia too where the Chinese are not only forging their own currency out also other International currencies. There is counterfeiting to the Euro which is a consistent operation from Eastern Europe. Meanwhile the UK is more secure with the expectation of one counterfeiter to deal with. This Counterfeiter has been inducing fake notes into the UK economy and cannot be traced. All the forensic analysis points to this counterfeiter he had counterfeited 20 Pound Bills of the UK currency by changing their series. He adapted immediately. According to reports this person accounts for 80% of the counterfeiting the UK. Yet he is untraceable.

According to the jargon used in the industry there is one called the ‘super note’, these are cost forgeries produced at an industrial operation where high quality notes are produced in high volumes. According to reports there is one such operation situated in North Korea which churns out US $100 bills and these fakes are as good as the originals.
You think and have stated that the banknote industry is a very secretive and requires being unrestricted? What is the reason behind this statement?

The Banknote industry is like an exclusive club. The US banknote mill has been operational some 130 years and yet a new comer in this market. Whereas, the European bank note printers have been in the same industry since 300- 400 years. They hold the world monopoly and are well-established companies who do not want to lose their position therefore keep the entire industry and its process all hushed up to continue with this monopoly, the longer the better.

In my opinion: delusion encourages deception. If the secrecy is removed and the process of making and distributing bank notes becomes open more security protocols can be placed and counterfeiting can be curbed.

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