Counterfitting of [Your Product Here] Case Continues to Build

The US Secret Service, which is part of the Treasury Department, has the responsibility to track down counterfit US currency, and becuase of a quirk of history, also protects the President of the USA.

According to Yonhap, the Secret Service has collected up to $50 million of “supernotes,” first discovered sixteen years ago and believed to come from North Korea….

But the latest trend shows the communist regime depends heavily on counterfeiting cigarettes for major income, smuggling at least one 40-foot container every month into the U.S., they said.

Testifying before the Senate in the first Congressional hearing on Pyongyang’s illicit financial activities, Michael Merritt, deputy assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, gave statistics gathered from a global investigation.

There were more than 170 arrests involving more than 130 countries since the supernote was first detected in 1989 by a Central Bank cash handler in the Philippines, he said.

“Our investigation has revealed that the supernote continues to be produced and distributed from sources operating out of North Korea,” he said.

The amount seized, he acknowledged, is low compared to other types of counterfeit currency, such as over $380 million produced in Colombia.

But the high quality of the supernotes, not the quantity circulated, is the primary concern, he stressed.

“These sophisticated counterfeits range from older series $100 notes which bear the smaller portrait, to counterfeits of more recently redesigned ‘big head’ notes, to include the latest version of the 2003 series,” said Merritt.

“These new versions show corrections or improvements in the flaws which are used by banking and law enforcement to detect them,” he said.

“A major source of income to the regime and its leadership, we believe, is the counterfeiting of cigarettes,” he said.

“From 2002 through September 2005, DPRK-sourced counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes were identified in 1,300 incidents in the United States,” he said.

“Recently filed federal indictments allege that for several years criminal gangs have arranged for one 40-foot container of DPRK-sourced counterfeit cigarettes per month to enter the United States for illicit sale over several years,” Prahar said.

The U.S. government is seeking $5 million in criminal forfeitures in several of these indictments, according to the official.

I was told on my last visit to the DPRK that Marlboro Reds were popular in the DPRK and many astute smokers could taste the difference between the American and European versions–and prefered the American product


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