Seminar in Japan focuses on ways to spot counterfeit U.S. currency



Civilian and military law-enforcement officials met at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, recently for a primer on detecting counterfeit U.S. dollars led by a Secret Service agent from Hawaii.
The 76 participants from U.S. and Japanese agencies learned some of the ways counterfeits are produced and ways to detect them, according to Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigator Stacey V. Nelson.
The Yokosuka office of NCIS hosted the training, led by Special Agent Anthony Opie from the U.S. Secret Service Hawaii Field Office.
Opie told participants that sophisticated counterfeit currency has appeared throughout Asia, most likely created by foreign criminal groups, according to an NCIS statement on the training.
However, Opie said, the more prevalent counterfeiters today make bills using home computers and sophisticated copying machines.
Participants came from NCIS, as well as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations; Army Criminal Investigations Division; Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi security departments; and Army Military Police Investigations.
Nonmilitary U.S. participants included the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Japanese investigators from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Criminal Investigation Division; Japan National Police; Japanese Customs; and the Japanese coast guard also participated, Nelson said.
According to recent news and government reports, counterfeit U.S. currency in Asia is a growing concern for law-enforcement agencies, but it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon.
In the mid-1990s, a rash of exceptional forgeries called "super notes" was discovered in Japan and many Southeast Asian countries, most likely emanating from North Korea, according to news reports at the time.
Since then, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a new series of redesigned notes.
But the new bills also are at risk. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported a bust of forged dollars in Taiwan in August that appeared to be similar in quality to super notes.
According to the article, investigators found $140,000 worth of fake bills, and some investigators in Taiwan suggested the find was just a fraction of the high-quality forgeries circulating in the region.
NCIS recommends that anyone who comes across suspected counterfeit U.S. currency retain the bills and note the passer’s description, identification, companions and vehicle if possible. Contact base security officials immediately.
For more information, visit the Secret Service Web site’s "Know Your Money" section at