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The 'Best Counterfeiter in the World' is Canadian?

Updated on September 27, 2015

Counterfeit U.S. Money

Counterfeit $10 bill.
Counterfeit $10 bill. | Source

Hyperinflation Taught on Ducktales Cartoon

Counterfeiting Money Goes Way Back

According to Wikipedia, counterfeiting money is called the world's "second oldest profession." While it is not a legal profession, it is lucrative only if the counterfeiter does not get caught. Of course, there are many moral dilemnas that one must overlook when taking on this illegal occupation.

How Ancient China Protected Their Money

In Ancient China (1200's), paper money was created using mulberry tree wood. To prevent counterfeiters, royal guards stood watch around the mulberry forest. Anyone caught trying to replicate money in a fraudulent way, was sentenced to death.

Colonial America Viewed Counterfeiting as a Serious Offense

Benjamin Franklin also saw the threat in counterfeiting in the 1700's. When he printed colonial money, they contained the phrase: "to counterfeit is death." They viewed counterfeiting as a serious threat to the State that would not be taken lightly.

Why is counterfeiting illegal?

Two Reasons Counterfeiting is Illegal:

  1. It affects the national and local economies. Too much money introduced into an economy can cause hyperinflation, which is the devaluing of currency when too much is printed. Goods and services then skyrocket in price, When a currency is not tied to anything stable, then prices can fluctuate from day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour. Fluctuating currency is not good for business owners, because it makes it hard for them to pay their bills, and to stay in business.
  2. It is stealing. Printing counterfeit money allows the counterfeiter to get something for nothing. This is no different than stealing money from someone else. They are using fake money to buy real goods and services. The business owner is cheated out of money if the counterfeiting is discovered while the money is still in their possession.

Fact: Since copiers and copying machines are advancing in sophistication with technology, more people are attempting to copy money without advanced knowledge on money plates and money printing.

U.S. Currency Under UV & IV Lights

U.S. currency seen under UV light (left), visible light (middle), and IR light (right).
U.S. currency seen under UV light (left), visible light (middle), and IR light (right). | Source

Secret Service Counterfeit Tips

Five Quick Tips to Detect Counterfeit Currency

The Secret Service once shared these five identifiers to ID legitimate bills on its website:

  1. The Portrait - Genuine currency appears lifelike and stands out from the background, while fake money will look flat.
  2. The Border - On genuine U.S. currency, the borders are clear and unbroken. Fake bills may be uneven, blurred, and even broken.
  3. The Seals - On genuine currency, the saw-tooth points on the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve seals are clear, distinct, and sharp. Fake currency with have blunt or uneven saw-tooth points.
  4. Serial Numbers - On genuine money, they are evenly spaced, and the color of the serial numbers is the same as the Treasury seal. No so on a fake bill.
  5. Paper Fibers - Genuine currency have red and blue fibers embedded throughout, which is distinctly different from red or blue lines printed on a fake bill.

If you are still unable to tell if currency is genuine or fake, just go to the store and get a special counterfeit detection pen. If the bill is fake, the ink will turn black or dark brown on the bill, rather than stay amber-colored.

Frank Bourassa, Master Counterfeiter

Frank Bourassa
Frank Bourassa | Source

ABC's 20/20 airs episode on Frank Bourassa

Frank Bourassa is featured in a 20/20 special on his counterfeiting operation, revealing secrets on how he created his fake money.

Reader Poll

Would you counterfeit money if you thought you could get away with it?

See results

The Best Counterfeiter in the World?

The self-proclaimed "best currency counterfeiter in the world" has been set free. The man's name is Frank Bourassa, and he is Canadian. He was only released after turning over his stash of U.S. $20 bills that were so good, that they could not be identified as fake by the naked human eye.

The U.S. Wants Frank Bourassa Extradited

Frank Bourassa was set free on March 28, 2014, after paying $1,800 fine in Canadian currency.

Canadian authorities would not allow him to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges for his crimes in currency counterfeiting. Frank Bourassa lives outside of Montreal, Canada and spent only one and a half months in jail.

Frank Bourassa's fake money printing operation was capable of printing up to a total of $250 million. He was caught after a four-year long investigation after one of his fake $20 was discovered in 2010 in Troy, Michigan.

Frank Bourassa tells ABC News that he used the Secret Service website as a "road-map" to help create his fake currency, that he says is "undetectable" to the naked eye.

After producing the fake money, Frank Bourassa admits to selling the fake money in bulk to criminal groups, which introduced the fake U.S. money into circulation. Frank Bourassa viewed his illegal operation as "sticking it to the man," with the man being the U.S. government.

If Frank Bourassa was the best counterfeiter in the world, one might argue that he should have never been caught. But, he is just one name in a long list of counterfeiters, and he won't be the last.


"Master Currency Counterfeiter Prints Millions, Says ‘Screw You’ to US" ABC News.

Wikipedia Entry: Counterfeit Money.

© 2014 Zack Love


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