Counterfeiters focus on greenbacks

  • 2001-12-06
  • Aleksei Gunter, TALLINN
Estonian police are investigating the origin of forged $100 bills confiscated in two of the largest seizures of counterfeit money Estonia has seen in recent years.

Andres Anvelt, deputy chief of the central criminal police, told the Eesti Paevaleht daily the 167 bills were forgeries of an exceptionally high quality compared to those normally intercepted in Estonia, whose water marks and security strings are usually printed rather than being genuine.

Most forgeries found in Estonia are intercepted en route between Russia and Western Europe.

The first seizure of 21 bills was by police searching the home of a suspected drug dealer in Tallinn's Oismae district while another 146 were confiscated from an unemployed resident of Kohtla-Jarve who was stopped for speeding on the Tartu-Tallinn road.

Estonian police have confiscated 301 false $100 notes this year. Another forgery scam came to light this weekend when two people were arrested for using counterfeit 25 kroon bills.

In a press release the Estonian Criminology Center said U.S. dollars made up about 70 percent of the counterfeit money intercepted annually in Estonia and warned that the quality of forgeries is rising.

Forgers have recently begun using paper which appears genuine when placed under an ultraviolet light, rendering older detection equipment obsolete.

The center advised that forged $100 notes can often be recognized by a lifelessness in the features of Benjamin Franklin.

The three currencies most commonly forged by Estonian counterfeiters are U.S. dollars, Swedish kroner and French francs, according to Estonian police. Estonian kroons are usually counterfeited using little more than a high resolution scanner and an ink printer.