Secret Service brings down decade-old counterfeit ring

BY Dave Sloan  August 11, 2014 at 3:06 PM EDT
Photo by Wikimedia user Moritz Wickendorf

Photo by Wikimedia user Moritz Wickendorf

An Israeli-based counterfeiting ring produced and circulated over $77 million of mostly fake $100 bills for more than a decade without being discovered, until now.

During the 1990s, Bloomberg reported, ringleaders Itzhak Loz and Ronin Fakiro were able to develop over 17 different $100 bills that were so well manufactured that “they were often discovered only after they reached a bank or the Federal Reserve.” The sophistication of the technology that the ring possessed was second-to-none; mimicking the many nuances of modern U.S currency.

For law enforcement this was a unique case, due to the printing presses’ ability to emulate or closely recreate the detailed security features of U.S. currency, including the $100 bill’s 3-D security ribbon. “When a bill’s so good that it’s not discovered until it’s in the banking system that separates the passing of the note to its detection,” said Secret Service Director Julia Pierson. “It allows these people to operate more anonymously.”

The operation that led to the successful discovery of the ring began in May 2012. Secret Service agent Adam Raab discovered four of the fake bills attempting to be passed in a Northern Virginia Loan Max. Through an investigation, the agency was able to track down the suspect and convinced him to locate his supplier.

After a two year investigation, the Federal authorities discovered that much of the operation had moved to a New Jersey printing plant where they were able to seize over $2.5 million worth of counterfeit bills, while arresting both Loz and Fakiro at the site. “It’s rare to see that here in the United States,” said Special Agent Ed Lowery, who helped lead the investigation. “I mean you hear about it in training. We see them overseas. But not here.”