Names and details have been slightly altered to conceal my true identity from anyone who could recognize it, but this is the time of when I got involved with counterfeit bills and escaped with barely my freedom.
I’ve been browsing the deep web since the days of the original Silk Road. Back then, that’s all I did. I was just a spectator walking amongst the players of the biggest game in the world. I watched because I was intrigued. I had so many questions. Can you really buy drugs online? Is it really safe? Is the quality and price really that good? As my knowledge grew, one by one these questions were answered and invariably replaced with other, more questions. I realized that drugs were not the only things to buy and sell on these markets of freedom.
By the time the second Silk Road had failed, the lure of this world got the best of me. I had been eying a few vendors selling the same product. Counterfeit bills. I had only heard of them before. No way, I thought, that people could actually print their own money and have it work! And if they could, why would they sell them? After reading up on how to use these bills (for example, don’t deposit them at a bank!) I decided to risk a couple bucks and ordered small samples from 3 different vendors. All 3 were legitimate sellers. The first vendor, I didn’t dare try to use his bills. The second, had an extra something about it that I felt just might work. And the third, was even better. Looking at these bills I knew it was a big risk. They were clearly fake when inspected but if passed in the hustle and bustle of rush hour in a big store where employees have no personal stake in, they just might work. I lived in a major city, I would hide with the crowd.
The first time I ever handed a fake bill to a cashier I knew my life was over. I would be caught, sentenced, and incarcerated in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison for 25 to life. Then I got handed my change. In real currency. A fake $20 just turned into a real $18. For the price I bought them for, I just tripled my money in seconds! I spent all of the bills by the second and third vendor (destroying the bills from the first) and ordered more from the third vendor. And I was in luck. He had just changed his printing procedure and now the bills were even better. I spent those bills like I had no pockets. I was ordering more and more with the profits I had made. It got to the point I was making hundreds each hour I was out. And I was out passing these bills around everyday. I didn’t think I could ever fall, and I probably wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t gotten so cocky and tried to replace my supplier with myself.
One of the things about these bills you have to know is that they look real at a glance. But when looking closer, you can notice some things are off. It’s not a perfect print. They used the correct paper but the image was not perfect. As I later found out, this actually helps it look more real. If you have something so perfect, but a tiny detail or two is out of place, those mistakes will scream out to the world. But if the entire thing is consistently only very similar to the real product, you won’t notice unless directly compared. Money has so much detail you can’t capture all of it so you don’t want to print the best quality you can, because even that will not be good enough. I did not realize this.
My dangerous path began. I bought a printer, downloaded high resolution scans of bills, and started printing my own. I was impressed at first. The quality seemed high! The picture was spot on but I had only used normal printing paper. I told myself I would get the real paper later. The bills sat there and I couldn’t stop the idea from creeping into my mind. I tried to fight it but I slowly succumbed to the thought that the type of paper wouldn’t be noticed. The picture was near perfect! They wouldn’t notice the feel; surely the cashiers only pay attention to how it looks right? I set out immediately. Another mistake. One of my rules was to only go during rush hour. When the cashiers are too busy dealing with customers to inspect money. This was early morning, at a small 24 hour shop with no other customers.
I walked in, picked up a small snack and headed to the counter. I didn’t pay too much attention to the cashier as he took the bill from me. After a couple seconds, he told me to wait for a bit. Another mistake. Within a minute, half a dozen police entered and started interrogating me. I was held for a few hours in the cold of winter, denying everything when I should’ve kept my mouth shut, while they procured a search warrant for my vehicle. It seemed like luck had humor that day. In my car there were 2 receipts. One for something which is needed to print bills, and another for $20 cash back. The first brought more suspicion on me and the second gave me a way out. It was a reasonable doubt that I didn’t print the bill myself, I got it from a store where someone else spent a fake bill. I drove home shaking and thanking every god I could think of. I destroyed my equipment, bills, everything that could tie me to the crime. I had another large shipment of bills coming and as soon as they arrived, I burned them.
The next day, a couple of military looking guys wearing polos knocked on my door. It was secret service. Apparently, they investigate every occurrence of counterfeit bills and now they were investigating me. They took me down the the police station and interrogated me, keeping everything on tape. I wasn’t being detained or arrested, so no right to a lawyer, but they made it clear that it would not end well if I decided not to go through with the interrogation. I just kept repeating the same thing over and over. I had no clue about anything. They even did the whole good cop bad cop routine but I didn’t crack. I wasn’t going to make their job any easier. Eventually it ended and somehow I went home, not in cuffs. The next few days, no, weeks, were spent in paranoia. I never heard from them again but even now, every time I see a black SUV with blacked out windows, I walk a little faster.