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International cyber counterfeiting conspiracy dismantled

The U.S. Secret Service has supported Ugandan authorities in an operation in Kampala, Uganda, in which Ryan Gustafson, aka “Willy Clock,” a U.S. citizen currently residing in Uganda, was arrested and charged with conspiracy, possession of counterfeit currency, selling/dealing in counterfeit currency, and unlawful possession of ammunition. Following the arrest, authorities seized over $200,000 in counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) and miscellaneous paraphernalia used to manufacture and distribute counterfeit currency.

“This investigation and subsequent arrest illustrates how the Secret Service combines historic counterfeit expertise with cutting edge skill in technology to combat cybercrime around the world,” said Paul Morrissey, assistant director of Investigations. “The Secret Service will continue to dismantle criminal networks that seek to victimize American and International citizens or denigrate our national currency, regardless of geographic distance or borders.”

In December 2013, the Secret Service began investigating the passing of counterfeit FRNs in Pittsburgh, PA. The subsequent investigation identified counterfeit notes believed to have been manufactured in Uganda and identified a “secure” underground online forum called “Community-X,” as the source of the distribution of counterfeit FRNs. Using undercover agents, confidential informants, and other methods, the Secret Service identified multiple suspects, and developed information leading to the eventual arrest of Gustafson by Ugandan authorities. To date, approximately $1.8 million in counterfeit FRNs have been seized and passed in Uganda and neighboring countries, the Secret Service says.

The early infiltration and disruption of Gustafson’s U.S. trafficking network limited the total amount of counterfeit funds passed within the United States.

Federal counterfeiting and conspiracy charges were filed against Gustafson Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Those charges allege Gustafson both produced the counterfeit notes and administered the Community X network.

Throughout the investigation, the Secret Service worked closely with a variety of international and domestic law enforcement partners, including: the Ugandan law enforcement authorities, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the National Cyber Forensics & Training Alliance. The case continues pending further investigation and judicial action.

 

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