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Frank Bourassa had printed off $250m (£194m) in forged American bank notes before the Secret Service finally caught up with him.


Bourassa is seen in the back of the truck that contained $200m in forged US bank notes

Image:Frank Bourassa, left, is seen with police after agreeing to hand over $200m (£155m) in forged notes

Most people have at some point considered a change of career.
They might be looking to earn more money, learn new skills, or have simply grown bored of their current profession.

Frank Bourassa was running a brake factory in the city of Trois-Rivieres in Quebec, Canada, before he sold the business after suffering from burnout in 2004.
The 34-year-old didn't know what he was going to do next, but thought "one thing is for sure, I am longer going to work myself to death".
The former factory owner, now 49 and still living in Trois-Rivieres, told Sky News: "I had been working 20 hours a day and was burned out so bad.

"There was this moment where I was stopped at a red light, and I was like - 'why do we go to work? Why do we set up businesses? The end goal is money.
"It was at that moment that I decided I was going to start printing fake money."

Bourassa was running a brake factory in the city of Trois-Rivieres

Image:Bourassa used to run a brake factory in the city of Trois-Rivieres
In the years that followed Bourassa became the most prolific counterfeiter in US history, producing $250m (£194m) in forged American bank notes in an illicit print shop he set up on a farm.
The scale of the operation meant it was perhaps inevitable he would eventually be caught, but it also served as a bargaining chip when $1m (£774,000) in fake cash was found in a raid on his girlfriend's home.
Bourassa printed off his stash in the form of 12.5 million counterfeit $20 notes, before selling stacks of them for 30% of their fake value.
The money-maker said he had previously run a "fairly large cannabis growing operation", but had never committed a crime on the scale of his counterfeiting enterprise.
He was set to make $75m (£58m), in real money, if he was able to shift his entire supply of bogus bank notes.
Officers released this images of some Bourassa's unfinished notes after his arrest. Pic: Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Image:Officers released this image of some Bourassa's unfinished notes after his arrest. Pic: Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Although Bourassa came up with the idea in 2004, it was another few years before he was ready to start printing off his fortune.
"The paper, the ingredients - I knew nothing about it.
"There is a ton of work that goes into that paper, everything about it is different."
The first step was to work out "the exact recipe" of US bank notes before finding a paper mill that was willing to replicate it.
Bourassa said his notes had to be made from roughly 75% cotton and 25% linen.
He also needed them to have watermarked images of the former US president Andrew Jackson, which would show when the note was held up to the light.
An image shows some of the counterfeit notes and equipment found by police after Bourassa's arrest. Pic: Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Image:An image shows some of the counterfeit notes and equipment found by police after Bourassa's arrest. Pic: Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The supplier would also have to fit security strips to the product reading "USA twenty", before it was delivered to Bourassa as what would appear to be a blank canvas.
The counterfeiter would add more security features and the bank notes' green and peach colouring in his print shop.
Bourassa said paper mills were "quite suspicious" when he contacted them in 2008.
"I told these guys I was high up in an investment company and I needed a very secure type of paper.
"I said we were making our own bonds."
The counterfeiter contacted "tens and tens" of companies before a "very specialised" firm in another part of the world accepted the order.
"I had to order enough to print off $250m because that was the minimum quantity they were prepared to make for a custom batch."
Printing fake money doesn't come cheap, with the paper alone costing Bourassa around 50,000 Canadian dollars (£29,000).
$20. Pic: US currency education program

Image:The paper mill had to produce the words 'USA twenty' that are found on a $20 bank notes. Pic: US currency education program
It then had to be shipped from the country where it was produced to the Port of Montreal in Canada.
"Perhaps the most nerve-wracking bit about the whole thing was waiting for it to be picked up.
"I paid a guy to go and get that order.
"When I took ownership of that paper I knew I was going to be filthy rich."
Bourassa had rented a garage from a farmer who allowed him to set up the print shop no questions asked.
The counterfeiter kitted it out with a full colour printing press that cost 125,000 Canadian dollars (£73,000).
He also had a printing plate which would transfer the images you see on a real bank note on to his phoney cash.
"I had cutters, slicers, bundling and counting machines, I had it all."
$20. Pic: US currency education program

Image:The counterfeiter needed a paper mill to emboss the Andrew Jackson watermark into the paper. Pic: US currency education program
Bourassa said the whole venture cost him around 325,000 Canadian dollars (£189,000) and was funded through the profits from his brake business and cannabis operation.
He was finally ready to sell his forged bank notes in 2010, and had an accomplice responsible for finding criminal groups to buy them.
"My friend specifically targeted gangs involved in the import/export business so we could get that paper as far away from us as possible.
"Before I started the venture I decided I wanted it to end up in Europe, Asia and Africa. The buyers over there could flood it into the US system however they saw fit."
Bourassa said he had sold around $50m (£39m) in forged notes before dawn on 23 May 2012, when he heard loud bangs on the door and shouting outside of his girlfriend's home.
Around a dozen representatives from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were waiting outside.
Frank Bourassa

Image:Bourassa, pictured here in 2019, produced the forged bank notes in a print shop he set up on a farm
The counterfeiter was handcuffed and officers found printing plates and $1m in counterfeit bank notes.
"The police were excited to find so much in one place.
"Officers later said the notes were so good they were barely detectable to the naked eye.
"I had been caught because of a transaction I did with the fifth customer I had obtained. He was unaware that he had been infiltrated by the police."
Bourassa said the client had been selling stolen heavy good vehicles to an undercover agent, and had eventually asked the officer if he was interested in purchasing forged bank notes.
The counterfeiter said: "When I was arrested, man, I don't think there are words to describe that feeling.
"They had me locked up in custody and it felt like doomsday."
Bourassa had the paper delivered to the Port of Montreal in Canada

Image:The paper was delivered to the Port of Montreal in Canada
Bourassa said his girlfriend, a schoolteacher, had nothing to do with the crime and was released without charge.
He was told he was facing up to 14 years in prison, but said he only expected to serve a sixth of his sentence.
His optimism dissipated when the US Secret Service got involved.
"This changed everything because they wanted to extradite me to the US.
"They told me I could be facing up to 60 years."
Bourassa was charged with the possession of the printing plates, possession of forged notes, and the transferring of the fake cash to the client who was caught in the sting.
The Secret Service told him he could serve 20 years for each of the three changes.
He was then jailed without the option of bail ahead of his trial.
Bourassa would sell the forged notes for 30% of their fake value

Image:Bourassa would sell the forged notes for 30% of their fake value. File pic
After six weeks his lawyer agreed an arrangement which allowed him to walk free after paying a 10,000 Canadian dollars (£5,800) bond.
He wouldn't face trial until over a year later in December 2013.
Just minutes before the first hearing got under way, the counterfeiter admitted to his lawyer he had another $200m (£155m) in fake notes.
Bourassa said he and his lawyer were able to negotiate an agreement where he would walk free if he told Canadian and US officials where the forged notes were.
"The police gave me a drop-off date of 31 January 2014 for when the counterfeit money had to be handed over.
"I believe their plan was to follow me everywhere and try to catch me before that date, that was their thing."
Frank Bourassa

Image:Bourassa only served six weeks in prison after agreeing to hand over $200m in forged bank notes to the police
The bogus $200m had earlier been transported to the car park of a hotel in Trois-Rivieres, where it had been sat in the back of a truck for several months.
Bourassa said he led the officers to the vehicle on the drop-date and walked free having only served six weeks in prison.
"That feeling was so good it's hard to describe, because when they told me it could be 60 years I thought that was the end of my life."
The counterfeiter says he made $15m (£12m) from the sale of $50m in forged notes, but said he would rather not discuss what happened to it after his arrest.
He is now back to earning money through legitimate means, having set up a consultancy company which helps clients to avoid having their products faked.
"I've worked a lot in the fashion industry, the pharmaceutical industry, I've been working a lot.
"I wouldn't say I'm living off that money, but I'm getting work from it."
 
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