Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime The Almighty Buck United States

North Korea's High-Tech Counterfeit $100 Bills 528

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-purchase-goods-and-sing-the-glories-of-the-leader dept.
ESRB writes "North Korea is apparently able to produce high-quality counterfeits of U.S. dollars — specifically $100 and $50 bills. It's suspected that they possess similar printing technologies as the U.S. and buy ink from the same Swedish firm. 'Since the superdollars were first detected about a decade ago, the regime has been pocketing an estimated $15 to $25 million a year from them. (Other estimates are much higher — up to several hundred million dollars' worth.)' The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

North Korea's High-Tech Counterfeit $100 Bills

Comments Filter:
  • BitCoin (Score:5, Funny)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:17PM (#39151723) Journal

    It's the only way to prevent counterfeit money.
     

    • Re:BitCoin (Score:5, Funny)

      by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:21PM (#39151795)

      4 more years and the dollar is going to resemble Zimbabwean currency anyway... why invest time and effort into this.

      We'll be counterfeiting the DPRK's won, and then burning it to keep warm like they do.

      • Re:BitCoin (Score:4, Funny)

        by g0bshiTe (596213) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:43PM (#39152171)
        Sweet in 4 more years I can be a Zimbabwean prince asking your for to help with me transfer small amount funds and offer you large percetege for asists me in transferang due to ecomonic insatiability.
      • It really doesn't matter how many counterfeit $50s & $100s that the DPRK can print or dump onto the international marketplace. Not one bit, even if the DPRK counterfeited $1 Billion USD instead of only $200 Million USD. Compare that to the $2+ Trillion USD that the USA Federal Reserve has created out of thin air, and without even bothering to print them up. This was the amount of "digital dollars" that have been passed along to international corporations, foreign banks, and foreign central banks sinc

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          North Korea wanted to make real money, they should simply set up a small 'economic zone'. A tax haven location, where extradition never applies and gold can buy you anything, absolutely anything, nothing to sick or depraved. They'll have the rich and greedy flocking in and readily generate billions every year ( the same rich and greedy will also seek to protect it).

          North Korea ain't communist or socialist, it's an insane asylum with the insane in charge.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      Bitcoin: the best way for hackers to steal your money over the internet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well since my karma is already terrible I will offer this humble reply; Bitcoin?! Have you lost your fucking mind? What are you smoking?

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth

      As well as bringing BIG bucks to the banks! Jesus, I imagine they're salivating over the extra fees they'd get. As it is, I have no credit nor debit cards, nor do I want any. When I'm at a bar I use quarters as counters, one per beer, which is both the bartender's tip and a way for

  • advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value

    Sure, we should plug the paper hole, but who here believes that wire transfers are never faked?

    • by JBMcB (73720)

      It's exceedingly difficult to fake a wire transfer as they are double checked by multiple redundant systems. You'd have to hack into a dozen different systems and coordinate everything simultaneously.

      The best you probably get away with is to fake a transfer for a short period of time. Kinda like writing a bad check, but it's caught much, much faster.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      The notion that "do it electronically" would solve counterfeiting is the sort of thing I wouldn't expect to see parroted on Slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:19PM (#39151741)

    "The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth."

    I would rather live in a world where I can carry cash and buy things without some asshole profiteer figuring out how many companies they can sell me out to behind my back.

  • Math Pedantry (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:20PM (#39151747) Journal
    I didn't like this excerpt:

    The 2009 attempt to raise funds by devaluing its already pathetic currency revealed not only the country's fiscal desperation, but also the abuse Dear Leader was willing to inflict on his people. The won was devalued by 100 percent, which meant 1,000 won suddenly had the purchasing power of 10 won.

    It appears they got the 100 to 1 ratio [businessinsider.com] correct but I don't see how this is a "devaluation by 100 percent." Such ambiguous language would normally lead me to believe that a devaluation by 100 percent means everything is completely worthless (with zero percent value left). Wouldn't the correct devaluation percentage be 99 percent? I guess I would have preferred the fraction or ratio comparison instead if that is indeed how listing devaluation by percentage works in economics. Perhaps they could use better phrasing like "reduced purchasing power of all your money to one hundredth of its original worth overnight." Furthermore, how would you not riot over your government doing something like that to you?

    • Re:Math Pedantry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JobyOne (1578377) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:22PM (#39151805) Homepage Journal

      I wouldn't call it pedantry. I'd call it legitimately calling out the author for both having no apparent grasp of basic arithmetic, and likely being a moron.

      • by longacre (1090157) *
        Typo perhaps? Instead of 100 percent, it should have read 100 fold?
      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:48PM (#39152257)

        I wouldn't call it pedantry. I'd call it legitimately calling out the author for both having no apparent grasp of basic arithmetic, and likely being a moron.

        I have it on good account that the article's author had been measured a Barbie Math Quotient of 73, as opposed to 100 for an average Barbie doll.

      • I wouldn't call it pedantry. I'd call it legitimately calling out the author for both having no apparent grasp of basic arithmetic, and likely being a moron.

        Don't act so surprised; he probably an economist.

    • > Furthermore, how would you not riot over your government doing something like that to you?
      Because the citizens are told (and some believe) that other countries are doing worse to their citizens.

    • How? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:38PM (#39152057)

      Furthermore, how would you not riot over your government doing something like that to you?

      Man, you really don't know anything about NK, do you?

      Anyone trying would be shot. There's no press. Very little outside observation, almost none allowed in or out.

      On top of that many of the people are very literally brainwashed to adore the countries leadership and accept blindly anything they say or do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:21PM (#39151773)

    The ink is made by a Swiss, not a Swedish company. What the hell is it with Americans that they confuse these all the time.

    • by sycodon (149926)

      Yeah! Just like all those absolute morons who think they speak Austrian [ihatethemedia.com] in Austria.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:21PM (#39151781)
    The real reason to go all digital for money is because it makes it much easier for the government to control what you can and cannot buy. It also makes it easier for the government to control who can and cannot go into business.
  • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:23PM (#39151813)

    Electronic payment records are already being recorded and data-mined by corporations for fun and profit. If every payment is electronic, every payment is traceable and every thing you ever pay for will be recorded, compiled and cross referenced. I really don't trust corporations or even my government that much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:23PM (#39151823)

    Just like copying movies and music: NK haven't stolen anything. The US still has all the dollars it ever has. It isn't like stealing a car where that deprives the original owner of the car. It's more like *duplicating* the car while the original owner still has it.

    So it's OK, according to Slashdot.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      It's stealing from everyone who holds dollars, and I suspect you know that.

      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:04PM (#39152519)

        Only to the same extent that forging a movie DVD steals from everyone else who owns that DVD.

    • Exactly, that's why I can walk into any convenience store and purchase a beer for the paltry price of five Sir Mix-a-Lot .mp3 singles, or five green Baby-Got-Backs.

      Nice troll, but obvious 4/10

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Cute, except currency represents an IOU - an obligation on the part of somebody to do something. That's what it is. And what a song is not.
      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:55PM (#39152349)

        It's exactly the same. The problem with counterfeiting money is it devalues the currency. The problem with illegally copying commercial media is that it devalues that commercial media.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      It's more like *duplicating* the car while the original owner still has it.

      Absolutely right. There's nothing wrong with printing copies of money. The government has no copyright on the design.

      Now, as soon as you SELL THEM, or otherwise FRAUDULENTLY try to pass them off as legitimate, you have broken other laws unrelated to the copying of the bills.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:24PM (#39151835) Homepage

    Why does cash still exist in widespread usage? It clears at par.

    If someone wants to pay you $10, and they give you cash or a check, you get $10. If they want to pay with anything else, be it Paypal, Square, some other mechanism, etc, the payment processor changes some ridiculous fee that will range from $.10 to $.50 or who knows what higher.

    "Clearing at par" is why cash and checks still exist, and until electronic transactions are not only convenient and easy, but ALSO clear at par, there will still be a huge role for cash and checks.

    • by sribe (304414)

      "Clearing at par" is why cash and checks still exist, and until electronic transactions are not only convenient and easy, but ALSO clear at par, there will still be a huge role for cash and checks.

      Some banks are actively working on fixing that flaw of checks ;-)

      • by nweaver (113078)

        Some banks are actively working on fixing that flaw of checks ;-)

        Others are doing the opposite: a lot of ATMs now have check-scanning on them, and there is also the "Photo the check" apps that several banks are deploying, which are all about "people use checks because they clear at par, so lets reduce our costs so we only lose a penny or so in the process"

  • by localroger (258128) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:25PM (#39151853) Homepage
    ...then get back to me on what a good idea all-electronic currency is. At least the state can't just make your Benjamins disappear when you become an unperson.
    • How much cash do you have on hand at any given time, though? We already have a largely electronic system; we just switch to hard currency to do transactions.
  • 19th Century Bills (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@@@lunarworks...ca> on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:26PM (#39151865) Homepage

    American currency is stuck in the 19th century. All around the world, countries with currencies that Americans scoff at as "worthless" have invested time and money in redesigning their currency to 21st century levels that make it harder to counterfeit. But, whenever anyone in power even breathes a word of redesigning US currency, the populace flies into a rage, foaming at the mouth about anyone daring to pervert their sacred greenbacks. All efforts to bring the bills up to date have resulted in hideous, half-assed results.

    I've actually heard stories first hand from a currency expert, who used to print banknotes in Europe, who was invited by the US to offer ideas on bringing the currency up to date, and the officials there rejecting each and every idea he put forward because they were "too different".

    It's kind of sad. Everyone wants to counterfeit your money, and they're good at it, but you're too sentimentally attached to its archaic design that you're completely unwilling to change it.

  • We don't have to abandon paper money just because it is not possible to keep forgeries from being manufactured. The government just needs a private key and digitally sign each paper bill it produces (similar to the current serial numbers but with PKI powers) and then when you accept paper money for payment you will need a computer to read and verify the digital signature is valid. This would solve the problem (with the added expense of verifying bills) but the government won't propose such a simple soluti

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by John.P.Jones (601028)

      This is completely wrong.

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:00PM (#39152447) Homepage

      Your solution does not address replay attacks. Unless anybody accepting a bill checks that into a central database there is no way to know that the same bill hasn't been printed a million times with the same copy of the original signature that remains valid.

      If I send you a signed email, you can make a million copies of it, and they're all still signed.

    • by surmak (1238244) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:00PM (#39152449)

      ... The government just needs a private key and digitally sign each paper bill it produces (similar to the current serial numbers but with PKI powers) and then when you accept paper money for payment you will need a computer to read and verify the digital signature is valid. ...

      Nice thought, but it won't work. You just need a bill, and you can copy the serial number, signature and all.

      What might work is the following: Manufacture each bill with a random "fingerprint", and and sign that. This fingerprint would need to be something that is impossible to create in given configuration (it must be random, and there cannot be any alternative non-random way to make it.) It should also be easy to verify. I do not know of anything that meets these criteria, but there may be something.

  • Wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by koan (80826) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:29PM (#39151911)

    We get the ink for our money from another country?

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:30PM (#39151929) Homepage

    There's an excellent Planet Money podcast on North Korea's illegal economy [npr.org].

    In the podcast they explain how North Korea is able to sell their fake currency, as well as the other shady things their government does to make money. It's worth a listen if you're interested in the North Korean regime.

  • by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:30PM (#39151935)

    What kind of technology goes into printing bills? Just curious, for the sake of philosophy.

  • I've long argued that the main thing propping up the artificially way too high US Dollar is its preferencing by extralegal entities since the normalisation of white collar "work" drove most of the American economy out of inherently tradeable production into devices which must be propped up by legal fictions to acquire monetary value.

  • Makes sense (Score:4, Funny)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:36PM (#39152025)
    The local Ambassador of North Korea in my country told journalists in 2010 that by 2012, the North Korea economy will be booming and that it will surpass the economy of the US, or something like this. I guess they are simply trying in the best way they can. ;]
  • The U.S. doesn't make anything, so why not counterfeit those countries that make all the goods.
  • Sort of like bitcoins. instead of serial numbers each note would contain a multi-hundred digit unique RSA code. The bill would be its physical token. US Treasury websites could validate the bill. The same site could invalidate a fake or copied certificate. Or privacy people could avoid validation at all.

    Current $100 bill are not entirely private. Its trivial to read and record the current serial numbers. And some banks may be doing that for large bills to look for crime payouts.

    Much of bitcoins p
  • by J'raxis (248192) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:38PM (#39152063) Homepage

    Of course, this is exactly what the U.S. Government itself does: Print new money that doesn't actually represent any extant wealth and then "pocket" the full face value of the new currency. But then once these new bills makes their way into the market, the rest of us get to suffer inflation as a result.

    The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth.

    It would do no such thing. More and more people are switching to simple barter mechanisms, precious metals as an intermediate, things like Bitcoin, and "alternative" currencies (example [shiresilver.com]). If the government ever eliminates cash, this will only make such things thrive.

    But the fact that North Korea is making a few million a year off of counterfeiting serves as a wonderful pretext for forcing everyone into privacy-less currency, doesn't it?

  • by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:42PM (#39152129)

    Wow, if they keep this up for 1000 years, it might inflate the dollar by 0.1%.

  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:00PM (#39152453)

    Kim, don't copy that dollar! You wouldn't steal a movie, would you?

    ~Loyal

  • by JeanCroix (99825) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:15PM (#39152741) Journal
    The author's dismissal of the privacy problems with going from cash to all-digital transactions, especially as flippantly as he does in his final paragraph, really lumps him in with the "if you've don't nothing wrong, you've nothing to hide" types. Yet another talking media head perfectly willing to trade everyone's basic privacy rights for a bit of perceived safety. In his mind, he's already won the debate, and it's only kooks and vested interests holding out. But don't listen to me, I'm obviously a cash-hoarding militia member, an anonymity-obsessed ACLU'er, the U.S. Treasury, Russian mob, Laundromat owner, or a person who has hidden a purchase from my spouse or income from the government.
  • by dcollins (135727) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:33PM (#39153037) Homepage

    The argument of this article smells all wrong to me. It was just a month ago that I speculated someone whether paper currency would be banned in our lifetime, and now here's an article arguing for that. Note the following about TFA:

    (1) The article spends several paragraphs finger-wagging at North Korea and what dastardly bastards they are. (Although, "That sounds like a lot of money, but compared to the $1 trillion in cash circulating in the great ocean of commerce, a few hundred million is chump change... probably won't bring about a crisis of faith in our paper money anytime soon. ").

    (2) Then near the bottom the article switches to a call to get rid of all paper currency, with a nice jab at "liberty" voters (as some call them), lumping the ACLU in between crazed militias and the Russian mob ("If killing all cash strikes you as a little too radical... At the risk of infuriating cash-hoarding militia members, anonymity-obsessed ACLU'ers, the U.S. Treasury, Russian mob, Laundromat owners, and just about every person who has ever hid a purchase from a spouse or income from the government, I would say this to Kim Jong-un and his posse of counterfeiters: Bring it.")

    (3) Ultimately, the headline about North Korea is really just a tiny degree away from "terrorist" fearmongering -- and at the end, it casts off even that garb and goes all-out terrorist/ drug-dealer/ child molester on us ("Who would be most inconvenienced if Washington were to outlaw $100 and $50 bills tomorrow? Cartel bosses in Juarez, Mexico jump to mind. So do human traffickers in China and Africa, aspiring terrorists in Afghanistan, wildlife poachers, arms dealers, tax evaders, and everyday crooks..."). So long as it potentially, minimally inconveniences some "bad guys" then of course it's worth it, even if "killing all cash" (the actual argument) means the end of privacy and convenience for all of us.

    Barf. I cull FUD and bullshit. Digital surveillance of every monetary transaction by the government -- that's real end-game here.

  • by tsotha (720379) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:57PM (#39153379)

    The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth.

    Bullshit. Money laundering became a crime in the US over 25 years ago as an anti-drug strategy. Clearly it didn't work, since drugs are cheaper today than they were back then, but every time you make a cash transaction over a few thousand dollars (can be as little as $2000, depending on the transaction type) a notice goes off to the government. From what I can see the net effect is if the feds want you they can bust you for spitting on the sidewalk then force you to plea bargain by threatening a 300 years sentence on financial crimes.

    And it's hard to imagine what Washington couldn't know about you if every single transaction you made landed in some government database. Not that it will make any difference to the criminals - drug traffickers and pimps (and their customers) will start using euros, yen, pesos, or drugs as mediums of exchange. Or gold, or bearer bonds. Whatever.

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough For Love"

Working...