A modern storytime.The recent history of possibly the biggest fraud in modern history.Someone,somewhere in the world,has systematically printed millions(some say billions)of high quality,fake,US currency.
And gotten away with it.Across the world occasional individuals or groups get arrested,but the criminal mastermind behind it seems to get away with impunity.
More than that?There seems to be nothing anyone can do to stop it.
What follows is a summary of a wild tale involving Russia Mafia,Irish terrorists,the FBI,North Korean diplomats,secret bases in Syria,and bitchy memos from the Secret Service,that goes on for thirty years.The story of some banknotes SO convincing that they have been nicknamed the'superdollar'.A story that's going on to this day…
The sheer scale of it Over the next few years,from the mid to late 80's to the mid 90's,as the US began to investigate,the scale of the problem became clear.This fake currency was being produced on a fricken INDUSTRIAL level.Millions upon millions of dollars right across the Middle East.And then it started spreading.To Africa.Asia.Europe.Interpol began asking the US Secret Service for help-they were THE experts on Counterfeit US currency;yet the Secret Service seemed resentful of Interpol stepping in and inter-agency information sharing was not happening.
The Syrian Connection.Throughout the early 90's rumours grew that the money was being produced in the Middle East;increasingly zeroing in on the belief that it was all being done somewhere in Syria(above).New leads emerged.
In 1996 the story broke in Britain that the government of Iran has tried to hire members of the Irish terrorist organisation,The IRA,to assassinate three leading Iranian dissidents who were living in exile in the west.As payment?A shed load of weapons AND about a million dollars in high quality fake US currency…
Back then,as now,Iran was closely allied to Syria.Had they gotten the money from some cartel based somewhere there?Based on local intelligence,the CIA said that they believed there was a billion dollars in fake currency out in the Middle East.The Secret Service responded angrily and said the CIA don't know squat about fake currency and it was way,wayyyy less than that.The CIA inferred the Secret Service didn't know a damn thing about the Middle East and stuck by their figures.
The rumours got so big that in 1996 during a state visit to Syria,President Clinton asked President Al-Assad(the father of the current President Assad)if he knew anything and could he please investigate…Clinton had a problem with this theory however.Basically the sheer scale of the printing AND the fact that someone was using what appeared to be a specialist intaglio printer(which ain't small)meant that it would be very unlikely any'gang'could get hold of one,let alone ship it to Syria,let alone set it up in secret…Added to that?The linen-cotton mix it was printed in?That kinda stuff you can't buy wholesale you know?The trail went cold.The Syrian Connection was a dead end.But the fake money continued to be produced.Years pass…
Enter The Russian Mafia By now the fake currency was appearing all over the world.US Treasury reports began to identify Russia as a principle conduit for superdollars.They estimated as much as 20%of US$held by Russian banks were fake.The Russian organised crime cartels began selling off the fake money across the word.By 2005 we have our first arrests in this scandal.Yet they were confusing.In Manchester,England,a small cartel of criminals had started producing copies of the superdollars in such quantities that had they not been caught by a joint UK police/secret service sting operation they could have damaged the UK economy(they were printing roughly half a million dollars of premium quality fakes PER DAY).At last a criminal gang had been caught…But these were high quality copies of the premium quality fakes.The gang was a dead end.Then one of the commanders of the another Irish terrorist network was arrested trying to smuggle into Europe tens of thousands of fake dollars he picked up in Moscow.
In the US itself,the superdollars began to show up-leading the FBI to launch two sting operations(with the epic names'Operation Royal Charm'and'Operation Smoking Dragon')leading to attests of dozens of people and millions in fake currency being seized.But again-these were criminals jumping on the superdollar bandwagon.WHO was making them was still a mystery.By 2006 while the Syrian rumour was still ongoing,and the Russian aspect was now being exposed,when suddenly,a new suspect entered the investigation;one that had the US shifting their focus to the other side of the world.All eyes started looking at North Korea.
在美国，这些超级美元开始出现——促使美国联邦调查局(FBI)启动了两次卧底行动(史诗般的"皇家魅力行动"(Operation Royal Charm)和"冒烟的龙行动"(Operation Smoking Dragon))，并查获了数十人和数百万美元的假钞。但是，这些都是追逐超级美元潮流的罪犯。世界卫生组织正在制造它们，这仍然是一个谜。到了2006年，叙利亚的谣言还在继续，俄罗斯方面也被揭露，突然，一个新的嫌疑人进入了调查，这个嫌疑人让美国把他们的注意力转移到了世界的另一边。所有的目光都开始注视着朝鲜。
From North Korea with love…How did North Korea get into this story?North Korean diplomats all travelled to their embassies via the Moscow Embassy.It seemed as if while in Moscow,they were picking up superdollars which they passed in their destination nations.Diplomats were arrested-but as they were protected under the laws of Diplomatic immunity,all that could happen was they would be deported.But the US authorities began spotting clusters of the superdollars circulating in South Korea and in the region of China bordering North Korea.All the evidence began pointing towards the rogue state.Had it been the Koreans all along?The case against North Korea took a dramatic turn when a whole bunch of North Korean defectors started turning up and describing how they were witness to North Korean authorities printing tonnes of the stuff.
Things reached a head when a Senate committee report openly said North Korea was behind it all.The US had found its culprit.Between 2006-2009 this idea picked up steam.Immense pressure was placed upon South Korea by America to expose and denounce their Northern neighbour for this.They refused.They were not convinced North Korea was behind it.There was a problem with this theory.The defectors when pushed later admitted they had lied about the stories to win favour from the West.And the amount of fake cash coming in the region?It was clear North Korea had access to a LOT of superdollars.Not enough to explain away it's by now twenty year spread across the Middle East.Sure,we could say NK was slipping it's embassy staff superdollars across the world and it is clear they had access to a lot of it.But the evidence kept saying it ORIGINATED from elsewhere.Yet again the trail went cold.And still the money was pouring out.
Today…This is still going on.But not on the same scale.Some retain the belief that North Korea is behind this fake currency.Others?Criminal gangs in Russia or China are responsible.But there exits one suspect whose name appears again and again in the narrative…one suspect named all the way back in 1994 as the culprit.One suspect who is probably the brains behind it all.And to understand how they did it we need to go back in time a little.
Iran.Mid-1970's.Iran was a nation whose playboy king looked great.And ruled the country with an Iron first.The Shah was in power because the CIA has toppled the Iranian government and put his father in charge.He stayed in power by means of a ruthless secret police and a tough army.The Shah LIKED America.And America liked the Shah.So much so they gave him lots of aid and support.Everyone thinks that means guns and weapons.And sure it does…BUT aid can come in many ways.For example the USA allowed him to buy one of these…
This is an intaglio printer.It is an old fashion method of printing and is used these days to make one thing.Banknotes.What they gave the Shah was a super-duper'this is what WE use'intaglio printer.It was imported form Germany at great expense.The United States figured-you are our friend.Let's us help you.Let us give you the same machines we use so you can print high class bank notes.But don't let us stop there.US currency is NOT printed on normal paper.Oh no.That would be stupid.We use a sophisticated cotton-linen based hydrid,which is durable,tough,and'feels'like currency.Here,they said,have a load of that.You know to print your currency on.
The theory goes as follows:the Iranian Revolutionary Government discovered the printer and paper and ink in Tehran after the revolution.They then sourced extra cotton-linen paper via Russia.This was the height of the Cold War;Iran after the hostage crisis was persona non grata with America.So they found what allies they could.And this included East Germany.They had some deep links with the East Germans.The theory is that intelligence operatives working for the East German Secret police(the Stasi)has supplied Iran with counterfeit plates of US currency back in the late 80's.
And that Iran has simply printed a fortunes worth of US currency;quietly,without much fuss,and just dumped it out there.It would explain how nominally broke ass Iran was able to pay for huge amounts of upgraded weapon systems.It was notable that during the 90's when Iran was a pariah with the US they started announcing they would only pay foreign payments to central Asian states in US$.Like…Where did they get this cash?This theory would explain away why the Russians suddenly had so much of the fake currency.The Iranians were paying the Russians for weapon systems with it.And it would also explain away the Korean involvement.The Koreans sold the Iranians a bunch of missiles.It cost millions.And then about half way through the payments the Koreans suddenly said they would accept no more cash payments from Iran.The rest of the balance had to be paid for in oil only.Sounds like someone realised they were being conned.
This theory would also explain the Syrian link.The Iranians wouldn't just unveil these dollars one morning in Tehran-it would leave them in the frame.They would have needed a place to introduce the currency FROM somewhere not in Iran.Hence why Syria was identified.They probably used it as a conduit.If this theory was true-it would suggest that Iran has simply printed BILLIONS of dollars since the late 80's.Officially however…the United States has NEVER formally accused Iran of this.Which begs the question…Why the hell not?
The case against the theory There are two reasons to not openly accuse Iran of this…1-I'm being sensationalist,picking up on sensationalist reporting and wild unproven theories,and the problem isn't as bad as I made it out to be(hey-gotta keep that in there)and Iran is NOT involved otherwise the Secret Service would have just said so…OR 2-America has a valid reason to NOT say the Iranians are behind such a massive fraud.Option 2 can only be possible IF there was a realistic reason for the USA to not scream at Iran.
Consider this…The US Dollor is THE global reserve currency.It's part of America's reach as a superpower that everywhere in Earth the dollar is the biggest,most widespread currency.It could be argued that much of the global economic stability we have is down to the stability of the US greenback.Now imagine if,tomorrow,President Trump exposes Iran for this crime?Imagine if he says'Iran has produced maybe BILLIONS in US currency;it's all fake;and these fake notes are spread across the world'?How would people respond?Sure.They could respond calmly and sensibly and moderately.Or they could react a lot LESS sensibly.They could suddenly response by of getting rid of their US$.Changing them into anything-Euros,Swiss Francs,Chinese Yuan,ANYTHING.
We simply don't know what could result from stating this but the worst case scenarios are scary.Thus the President has a choice-say this aloud and potentially devalue the worth of the US$globally…OR…Sit and take it,inwardly seethe with fury,and describe Iran as'supporting terrorism and destabilising the region'.Yanno.Like Presidents Clinton,both Presidents Bush and President Obama did?All of which begs one last question…