Counterfeit Conspiracy: How It Undermines Your Money
Hundreds of millions of American dollars in bogus bills are flooding the world market. And while counterfeiting is nothing new, recent global counterfeiting strategies may undermine the integrity of the dollar.
In addition to small-scale counterfeiting, large counterfeit operations are being sponsored by foreign governments and have a greater potential for weakening the U.S. dollar.
According to the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Iran and Syria are actively engaged in producing and distributing counterfeit $100 bills. They are acting in concert to purposefully “destabilize the United States’ economy by undermining confidence in the dollar.”
The plan is to flood the world market with bogus American bills. That would drive down the value of the dollar and weaken the U.S. economy. Iran and Syria also need hard currency to alleviate their own financial crises.
“The Iranian deficit is far greater than… predicted, therefore they need more hard currency to balance the budget,” says Yossef Bodansky, director of the task force. In 1992, the Iranian foreign debt was estimated at $34 billion. Bodansky says the Iranians made up for the shortfall by printing high quality $100 bills at their government mint.
According to the task force report, bogus bills are passed through a Lebanon-based drug network. Safe shipment of the counterfeit money is facilitated by Syrian Military Intelligence. The counterfeit dollars are then distributed through Africa via Cairo, Egypt, and Nairobi, Kenya, and on to Europe via Albania, Bosnia and Italy.
Bodansky says the Iranian counterfeit money is laundered with drug profits by the Italian Mafia. He says the Italians have enlisted the help of the Russian mob. According to the task force report, more than half the foreign currency in circulation in Central Asia may be counterfeit.
What can the United States government do to safeguard the integrity of the dollar from this international counterfeit conspiracy? Treasury Department officials recently unveiled their plan to Congress. They want to conduct the first major overhaul of the U.S. currency in more than 65 years. Among the possible changes are: shifting and enlarging presidential portraits, and adding hard-to-copy water marks and color shifting ink.
The Treasury Department plans to begin circulating new $100 bills in 1996. But as Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) warns, this one change is not enough. “We must continue to innovate in order to keep one step ahead of the counterfeiters. We can’t… reevaluate the currency once every 65 years.”