In a transnational investigation into counterfeiting, the Thai police cyber-task force, along with the US Secret Service in Bangkok, seized offset printing machines and tens of thousands of counterfeit $100 bills in early November.
The investigation was launched after authorities noticed an increase in the number of banknote counterfeits in Thailand. A source also tipped authorities that most counterfeit notes were produced in Southeast Asia.
According to the head of the US secret service in Bangkok, police arrested eight people and seized numerous printing presses in a series of raids over a few days.
In one raid, agents seized 36,000 counterfeit 100 million baht bills. On November 11, police arrested a “branch holder” for banknote printing, identified as Thongmak, and seized four offset printing machines in Phetchaburi’s main district.
Police raided another location in Bangkok and arrested a man by the name of ‘Boonchuai’, who I believe is a major backer of the operation from Laos. He was reportedly the press officer for the factory in Nakhon Pathom, just outside the capital.
The next day, November 12, officers arrested a man identified as “Kitchaphat” and seized 10,000 counterfeit $100 bills.
Police also seized 10,000 counterfeit notes that were 95% to 97% identical to the genuine note, leading to warrants for international banknote counterfeiting. The maximum penalty if found guilty is life imprisonment.
Major General Naphanwut said the U.S. Secret Service sent personnel to assist in the investigation, which found a link between printing works in Nakhon Pathom and Pathum Thani that may have been operated by the same gang.
“The seizure is huge. Even experts were amazed at the resemblance,” he said.
Police have made some recommendations for detecting counterfeit $100 bills.
For example, cotton is used, instead of paper, as the primary raw material for the $100 bills. Due to the difference in fabric, the real one can still be used after it has been washed.
When the banknote is held up to the light, the watermark with the portrait of Benjamin Franklin in the empty space on the right is clearly visible and the embedded thread runs vertically along the left the letters USA and the number 100.
Finally, the colour of the number 100 in the lower right corner of the front of the banknote changes from green to black when tilted.
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