Using a printer at home, the men in Marietta, Ga., printed at least $1.1 million in fake currency.
Tracing toner purchases and counterfeit bills eventually led the Secret Service to bust a Georgia ring suspected of printing fake money at home using a basic computer and printer.
Heath Kellogg and five others were indicted and charged with counterfeiting up to $1 million in U.S. currency out of a home in Marietta, Ga., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Kellogg, a self-taught graphic artist, was known among his circle as "The Printer." According to Secret Service agent Chuck Brand, Kellogg used simple devices — a computer and printer — to develop an extensive counterfeiting operation.
Most of the fake money was fifty-dollar bills, something the Secret Service rarely comes across. Brand told Atlanta's WSB-TV there may also have been some twenties, the kind of bills Brand said were the most popular counterfeits, followed by hundreds.
Kellogg's ring began manufacturing the phony currency in large quantities in February 2011, the Secret Service said, printing and spreading it through a large distribution network. The counterfeiters sold the fake notes to their clients at a discount. "They would basically sell a thousand dollars’ worth of counterfeit for $250 genuine," Brand told the Journal-Constitution.
The Secret Service discovered the fake bills not only in Atlanta but also in Charlotte, N.C., Columbia, S.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn., as well as some of the service's Florida offices.
In a normal year, the Secret Service confiscates approximately $2 million in counterfeit money in Georgia and $80 million nationally. The Secret Service's investigation showed that Kellogg and his ring were using ordinary printer paper to print the fake money, something Brand says should have set off alarm bells in people using them.
"It's the feel," Brand told the Journal-Constitution. "That's one of the first things, is the feel of the note." While some of the fifties had the same serial numbers, others did not have watermarks or the proper backing.
“This case exemplifies the negative impact of counterfeit currency to our local and national economy," said Reginald G. Moore, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Atlanta field office. Moore added that the Secret Service would continue to aggressively pursue anyone violating the "faith and trust citizens have in our financial infrastructure.”
The Secret Service got its first break in the Kellogg case in May 2011 when a local bank sent it one of the fake bills, which was missing certain numbers. Last summer, police in Conyers, Ga., arrested a man trying to pass off $500 in fake currency manufactured by Kellogg. The man eventually became an informant for the Secret Service.
Federal agents finally arrested Kellogg after tracing toner purchases and arresting a group of men trying to purchase items at a Woodstock home-improvement store using the fake bills. Kellogg, along with his other co-defendants, has pleaded not guilty.
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