Wednesday, August 10, 2016
We talked to the 'God' of counterfeiting who printed $250 million in fake cash — and got away with only 6 weeks in prison
In May 2012, the Canadian policeseized $1 million worth of fake US $20 bills and arrested four suspects in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.
The officers on the scene were immediately struck by the quality of the counterfeit notes.
"It's highly sophisticated, no doubt about that," Sgt. André Bacon of Canada's federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told CBC news at the time.
The police described the fake notes as "virtually undetectable to the naked eye," according to an archived press release from 2014. As well a looking just right, the counterfeit 20s felt identical to real notes, and they came with a "dark vertical stripe" that perfectly imitated the security thread on the real bills. The way banknote paper feels is a large part of currency security — it is made in only one mill, which makes only money.
Local man François Bourassa was immediately charged with the "production, possession, and distribution of counterfeit currency" and is the only suspect named in the CBC report.
Because of the remarkable quality of the counterfeit cash, the police assumed it was the work of a large and sophisticated criminal gang. Perhaps that's one reason that Bourassa served only six weeks in prison and paid a fine of about £1,000, or $1,300 at today's exchange rate, after handing in $200 million in counterfeit $20 bills before facing trial.
Bourassa says he made $250 million worth of fake notes. He is often asked where the other $50 million is. The missing stack of bills weighs about 2.5 tonnes (about 2,500 kilograms, or 5,500 pounds) and if stacked one by one would reach 250 metres, or about 820 feet.
"You would have to ask my accountant about that ... it implies complex mathematical questions," Bourassa, who refers to himself as the "Counterfeit God," told Business Insider.
The following account of Bourassa's story comes directly from an interview we conducted with him, along with contemporary media reports and a small number of press releases relating to the case, known by the police as Operation Cranium.
Key dates of the case have been confirmed to Business Insider by the Trois-Rivières courthouse. The US Secret Service and Interpol did not respond to requests from Business Insider for comment.