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Old 09-14-2009, 01:04 PM
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Feds perplexed by high-quality counterfeit money

Fake cash linked to Peru

by Josh Meyer - Sept. 14, 2009 12:00 AM
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON - A flood of high-quality counterfeit U.S. money from Peru is perplexing federal authorities, who say the shadowy networks that are responsible are also engaging in other criminal activity that poses a threat to U.S. security.

Over the past year, authorities and banks have recovered at least $7.8 million in fake U.S. notes across the United States that they believe were manufactured in Peru, according to Secret Service statistics. An additional $446,280 in fake U.S. cash from Peru was seized before it was spent in the United States during that same period, and more than $18.2 million more during raids in Peru, the Secret Service said.

"And that's just a fraction of the notes that we can ally to Peru," worldwide, said John Large, the assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Criminal Division at its headquarters in Washington. "It's a form of economic terrorism."

Besides costing U.S. citizens and businesses millions in losses, Large said the international counterfeiting rings undermine confidence in U.S. currency. That is especially true in countries in South America and elsewhere that have "dollarized" economies, in which U.S. bills are accepted as an official form of currency.

The Secret Service launched a special task force in February in partnership with the Peruvian National Police and stepped up training for Peruvian officials and bankers in how to go after counterfeiters. The State Department issued a warning to travelers last month.

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