Counterfeit cash has flooded states from coast to coast, not from a sophisticated organized crime ring but printed in a guy's apartment in California.
At one time, counterfeiting money was the handiwork of highly skilled criminal craftsmen. But authorities said Eric Aspden is behind a wave of do-it-yourself cash across the country which he printed using a laptop and a store-bought printer.
Aspden is now charged with making and selling bogus $20 bills that look so real they may have been in and out of your wallet without you even realizing they were fake.
"Mr. Aspden alone was responsible for the shipment of upwards of 2,000 packages a year of counterfeit currency linked to 30 different states and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars of counterfeit currency being flooded into our economy," said Justin Harper with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
Aspden, a 43-year-old ex-pharmacist who was working out of his apartment near San Jose, Calif., faces five felony counterfeiting charges.
Authorities said he was making a profit of at least $100,000 a year - in real money - producing the phony funds.
He was caught when some of the money turned up in Fairfax County in Virginia.
Investigators in Virginia said the fake money turned up shipments of fake $20 in states across the country, made on a laptop and a consumer-grade ink jet printer with high-quality cotton paper. The fake money looked similar to the real thing.
"If you try to pass it, there's a tremendous risk. If you get caught, you're going to get charged with a crime," said Capt. Dan Rodriguez with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities said that as personal computers and printers have become more sophisticated, counterfeit cases have increased. In fact, about $100 million in fake money is confiscated and 2,500 arrests are made each year.
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