"Limitless wealth was a craft project."
October 28, 2014 10:54 AM   Subscribe

The Great Paper Caper: Wells Tower (previously) reports on how one guy in Canada, Frank Bourassa, manufactured over $200 million in counterfeit U.S. twenty-dollar bills and more-or-less got away with it.
posted by Cash4Lead (21 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I admire his zeal.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:16 AM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


In his late twenties, Frank committed what he generally describes as the most regrettable error of his professional life: He tried to get rich by legitimate means.
I get that.
posted by jeather at 11:20 AM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


Great story. If we imagine that the currency printing operation involved hot metal typesetting, say with lead type, this post would be reverse-eponysterical.
posted by exogenous at 11:24 AM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


Great story. If we imagine that the currency printing operation involved hot metal typesetting, say with lead type, this post would be reverse-eponysterical.

As it happens Lead4Cash is the handle I use in the Bizarro World MeFi.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:43 AM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Andrew Jackson? He's just this guy, you know?
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 12:14 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cash4Lead: As it happens Lead4Cash is the handle I use in the Bizarro World MeFi.
I WOULD PAY FOR THAT MEFI MEMBERSHIP IMMEDIATELY!

ARE YOU LISTENING, MATTHOWIE?
posted by IAmBroom at 12:18 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


You already have. Well, the other you, anyway.
posted by NMcCoy at 12:24 PM on October 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


In Bizarro MeFi, mathowie pays you.

Fascinating article, although I wish there'd been more points of view than just the counterfeiter's!
posted by epersonae at 12:38 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


I have a feeling that paper mills have a bit more insight to grayscale-colored portraits of first-world figures than "oh just some random guy, must be legit"

This article is fun, but stretches things a lot farther than I normally would find acceptable. If selling equipment even in his region draws attention, how did he acquire $300k of gear without much heat?
posted by GreyboxHero at 12:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought it was an interesting story. But my main takeaway was, "why don't counterfeiters just start their own paper mills?"
posted by spilon at 1:01 PM on October 28, 2014


If selling equipment even in his region draws attention, how did he acquire $300k of gear without much heat?

I suspect the police were paying more attention to his activities after he was arrested for counterfeiting.
posted by yohko at 1:22 PM on October 28, 2014


"I don't know," said the counterfeiter through a grin. "Maybe I sold it all, and maybe I didn't."
Love it.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:25 PM on October 28, 2014


Great read. Frank is quite the character.
posted by 724A at 1:37 PM on October 28, 2014


I have a deep and unapologetic admiration for people who are able to manipulate systems and processes like this. Also, I adore counterfeiting and forgery at the craft level, but he's right: the hardware requirements have long outpaced my 'broke-dick' means.

Anyway I think this guy is brilliant and I love this story.

I have a feeling that paper mills have a bit more insight to grayscale-colored portraits of first-world figures than "oh just some random guy, must be legit"

I regularly hand banknotes from the following countries: US, Canada, UK, Scotland (3 different series of bank notes) and Euros (18 series of bank notes.) I have no idea who is (or isn't) on 99% of the notes I regularly see. Paper mills are run by normal people who don't have special knowledge about international bank notes.

This article is fun, but stretches things a lot farther than I normally would find acceptable. If selling equipment even in his region draws attention, how did he acquire $300k of gear without much heat?

Because when you buy a high-end press from the manufacturer, it's a private transaction. The manufacturer is not reporting the sale to any authority. But when you put a press up for sale 2nd hand, that's public.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:02 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I don't know," said the counterfeiter through a grin. "Maybe I sold it all, and maybe I didn't."

Heh. I worked with a guy who'd robbed multiple banks. Asked him once about whether the cops had gotten all the money back... similar answer ;)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:27 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


At the end of the movie (that better be fucking made) you see Frank on a beach in the Caribbean lighting his cigar with a 20$ bill.
posted by el io at 3:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


The movie that was made has the hero blowing it all in Monte Carlo.
posted by localroger at 3:46 PM on October 28, 2014


I have a feeling that paper mills have a bit more insight to grayscale-colored portraits of first-world figures than "oh just some random guy, must be legit"

...from what little paper making I did in art school, a water mark is generated by a low relief sculpture, rather than a printed image. It maybe makes it a bit harder to recognize unless the lighting is just right. Maybe.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:10 PM on October 28, 2014


Further in the article Ben Franklin, the face on probably the most commonly traded banknote in human history -- "he's just a clown." Take that shit to China and we're printing party flyers, that's Bozo, nobody will know the difference.
posted by localroger at 4:22 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


"You're somebody way back in China, you wouldn't think twice about printing this asshole. Who is that? They don't know. He looks like a clown, for all I care. I'd say, 'Yeah, I'm from a circus. We're having this production. We'd like to do some flyers, so I need a die for this. He's our clown. Bozo.' "

Love it. Love this guy and his attitude. It's true, local rog, I wouldn't know Bozo Franklin's face if it was die-stamped on my forehead in low relief. Even googling him now, by the time I get home tonight the only lasting mental picture I'll have is of a grumpy dude who looks like a fried egg wearing a fur coat.

Yo counterfeiters hit me up! I'm intensely ignorant of historical faces and have access to many reams of copy paper!
posted by forgetful snow at 10:51 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Buttons Bellbottom: Andrew Jackson? He's just this guy, you know?
Cue the Gotye: "And now Ben's just somebody that I used to know..."
posted by IAmBroom at 11:45 AM on October 29, 2014


« Older Vintage Supercars Rotting away in a Forest   |   when your food label is bumpy, you must toss it Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments