Secret Service thwarts multiple counterfeiting schemes since April

According to records, incidents varied in both sophistication and complexity
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 07/22/17
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The U.S. Secret Service foiled four counterfeiting schemes since April according to press releases sent out by the agency. The incidents varied in both sophistication and complexity.

The most serious incident was resolved in April when Alejendrina Elsa Quispe Ramirez, 48, a Peruvian woman, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for smuggling $100 bills totaling $1,190,000, all concealed within 140 spindles of thread hidden in her luggage. Her July 2016 arrest at Boston’s Logan Airport was made in response to a tip from the Peruvian National Police. As part of a plea agreement, the woman agreed to leave the United States after sentencing, according to a Department of Justice press release. 

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In May in Missouri, Stuart E. Thurber, 56, who lived in his Dodge Dakota pick-up and trailer, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison without parole and ordered to pay $9,000 in restitution to victims in Missouri, Nevada and California, for possessing electronic images for the purpose of counterfeiting. When officers searched Thurber’s trailer in a Walmart parking lot they found three laptop computers, two hard drives and two printers that Thurber confessed were used to print $100 bills. His method involved washing the ink off genuine bills and using his computer and color printer to create fake $100 notes. He printed and passed at least 93 such notes in the Western District of Missouri, according to a Department of Justice press release. 

Connecting coins, the arts, and American monuments: Another column in the August 7 monthly issue of Coin World continues with the art theme, as the artists who’ve designed our most gorgeous pieces of paper currency are profiled.

Two Chicago men in their twenties, Christopher Pierce, 24, and Harold Jones, 20, were convicted in June for passing counterfeit securities, according to the Department of Justice. A color printer and scanner were used to print fake $5, $10, and $20 notes on linen paper. The lower values were chosen in the hope of a lower probability of detection, according to the Department of Justice. The pair used the counterfeit currency to make small purchases at fast food restaurants, gas stations, and neighborhood businesses so they could get legitimate change in return. Pierce, who did the actual printing, according to officials, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and a year of supervised release. Jones was sentenced to the 113 days of time served and a year of supervised release. 

Finally, Gena Armstrong, a 20-year-old Georgetown, Louisiana, woman pleaded guilty to buying paper and a copy machine from an Alexandria office supply store in order to print $20 notes. In total, she printed a two-sided cut $20 bill, 30 two-sided uncut $20 bills and nine one-sided uncut $20 bills. She faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine at her Sept. 13 sentencing.

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