ugg sale online Secret Service links recent Oakland raids to multistate counterfeit cash scheme
Secret Service has linked the investigation to a previous case, in which a group of East Bay residents traveled the country spending tens of thousands in counterfeit cash reportedly produced by the same source.
The Secret Service estimates that this operation has flooded California with at least $1.25 million in counterfeit cash in each of the past four years.
Investigators would not release many details in the case including the names of suspects citing an order by a federal judge to keep all records sealed until further notice. Police records from around the Bay Area show that it is typical for counterfeit bills to turn up several times a week, which is enough to keep store owners on their toes.
“It seems to go in spurts, and happily there hasn’t been one lately that has impacted us,” Prima Restaurant general manager Jordana Arey said, adding that workers at the Walnut Creek eatery are trained to identify fake bills. This larger counterfeiting ring, however, was using an offset printing method an actual printing press, which requires more technical skill making the bills harder for clerks to identify.
“This method of printing allows mass production of high quality notes in short periods of time,” Secret Service Special Agent Lori Choquette wrote in a 2012 federal affidavit.
As is typical in counterfeit cases, details on this investigation were not made public until years after the arrests had occurred, thanks to a sealing order by a federal judge.
During the six months that federal agents were investigating this group, they were observed crossing state lines twice, at one point reportedly going to Las Vegas with $5,000 to $10,000 in counterfeit cash. On another occasion, they traveled to Miami Beach, spending counterfeit $100 bills at various businesses as undercover agents sat nearby, watching.
Link pleaded guilty to conspiracy and three counts of passing counterfeit bills, and Johnson and White each pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy, records show. They were all sentenced to terms in federal prison ranging from 14 to 30 months. Their activity was typical of large scale counterfeit operations, which tend to mirror illegal drug rackets in terms of organization and distribution, according to Secret Service Special Agent David Thomas.
“The counterfeit currency cases work very similarly to drug cases; you have contraband that is made or manufactured and distributed out in a similar fashion to a typical drug case,” Thomas said. “Sometimes what happens if you have a large amount of counterfeit currency. It might get distributed out to several groups of people who are not associated with each other,” even if the contraband is coming from a single source.
But agents were still able to link the bills seized from Link, Johnson and White to this new 2016 case because they keep a massive database of all counterfeit bills that have ever been seized. The Secret Service handles nearly all counterfeit cases, and police departments across the country forward seized counterfeit money to the agency.