When most people think of the U.S. Secret Service, they envision highly trained and well-armed agents protecting the president, his family, and other high-ranking officials who could be threatened.
But with its history of being part of the Treasury Department, the Secret Service has another job, as well: combatting counterfeit money. The agents recently teamed up with local police in Tulsa, Oklahoma to pursue an investigation into a suspected counterfeit currency ring.
Counterfeit money circulating
Tulsa World reported in July that an investigation into suspected counterfeit money had initially been opened by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, but had quickly been turned over to the Secret Service so that agency could take the lead on a matter well within its purview.
According to reports, two men had been stopped in a vehicle with expired tags and were taken into custody after the arresting officer realized both men had warrants out for their arrest from other counties in the state.
It was during a subsequent search of the men’s vehicle that a number of counterfeit bills — and the materials necessary to produce more counterfeit money — were discovered inside a suitcase.
The police report noted that there had been a number of counterfeit $10 and $20 bills, as well as uncut sheets of more counterfeit bills. Police also discovered other related materials, such as paper sheet cutters, a sketch pad, and graphic design software that could be used in the process of creating the counterfeit bills.
A later search of the men’s shared apartment turned up more evidence of an alleged counterfeiting operation, such as hundreds of prepaid credit and debit cards.
It was suspected that the men used fake bills to fraudulently purchase the prepaid cards at busy convenience stores, where clerks are less likely to notice if a bill is real or not.
Investigation remains ongoing
KOTV reported in August that the investigation into an alleged counterfeiting ring had moved beyond the Tulsa area, as a number of businesses in nearby Mayes County had been swindled with counterfeit $100 bills, according to the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office, which was working in conjunction with the Secret Service to address the issue.
Businesses in the area were encouraged to look especially close at the money being handled and to immediately report any bills that seemed fake or suspicious.
Specifically, business owners and clerks were encouraged to hold bills under a UV light or look closely for certain embedded security features like watermarks and security threads that counterfeiters are virtually incapable of duplicating or even adequately emulating.
Hopefully, the Secret Service will be able to quickly track down and apprehend whoever is responsible for the surge of counterfeit bills circulating in the Tulsa area, whether it be just a few individuals behind it all or an interconnected ring of nominally independent counterfeiters working together to defraud the public and area businesses.