Don't know if it's just that my coffee hasn't kicked in yet...
but I'm confused.
The copier techs who 'Rich' was replacing, called out a copier tech to clear a paper jam?
Moar coffee needed.
Friday is normally the end of the working week – unless you're one of those brave souls dangling from the end of a phone. Welcome to On Call. Today's story takes us back nearly half a century to when our hero, "Rich", was working as a field service engineer for a well-known photocopier maker in Philadelphia. "A typical day …
Ha! I was in Australia when the first series of polymer notes came out. A colleague of mine at the time thought it would be interesting to see what happened if he used a fancy scanner and colour printer to make a DIY $20 on some printable plastic. It was rubbish - aside from anything else the substrate was opaque which made a mockery of the transparent window - but the texture (excluding raised elements) and lovely reddy-orange colour was more or less ok. Regardless he kept it in his wallet as a bit of a talking point.
Roll forward a few months, he's forgotten all about this "one of kind" bank note and is on big night out. The next morning, he's in work, a little worse for wear, and greets us with an expletive, as he realises there is no $20 in his wallet. Yup ... he had unintentionally presented it and had it accepted.
I live in the North of England, and I remember a group of teenagers locally getting lifted because they'd scanned both sides of a fiver, printed it on an Epson Stylus ink jet, stuck the two faces together, and passed them off in a local garage for sweets, drinks and fags...
They got away with it on more than one occasion, so someone wasn't being too fussy about the quality of the notes tendered.
My memory is a blank on whether there was an inside person
I once did some work for the counteirfeit currency unit of the UK National Criminal Intelligence Service and had a trip around their museum and rogues' galllery. Some of the counterfeits wer top notch (see the North Korean superdollar) while some were laughable, but had worked. an example was a £10 note which had been made by gluing together two single sided photocopies and colouring it brown with wax crayon.
It had been accepted at a farmers' market (i believe drink was involved)
"Hey, Cletus! Hold ma beer and watch this!"
"Hold my beer!" is the redneck equivalent for "Once upon a time" except it only applies to tragedies. For dramas, instead use "No shit, there I was." For romance, something like "I was at my cousins' wedding..." works well.
A non-redneck friend of an old friend of mine used to begin tales of his harrowing years of soldiering in Vietnam with the phrase “No shit — there I was, …”. (He was a bit too young to have actually faced “Charlie” there, but he was a talented storyteller when sufficiently lubricated, albeit with tongue ensconced firmly in cheek.)
In my time in Silicon Valley I became familiar with the (fake) safety placard
The phrase “Hey y’all, watch this!” Is known to the state of California to be dangerous to your health
It was alarming how often it was applicable.
> You really couldn't make it up. Too good to be true!
Sadly (for the state of average human intelligence) there's no need to make it up because it's all too likely. I give you this real-life example of a budding-genius from the Isle of Man who thought he could get away with notes that had been copied on one side only.
Sadly (for the state of average human intelligence) there's no need to make it up because it's all too likely.
Yes, it is all too plausible. I remember hearing a local nightclub kept getting stung by photocopies perhaps five or ten years ago. A combination of poor lighting, wet hands and rushed staff make even poor fakes difficult to detect. I believe they resorted to fitting those UV lamps above every till drawer to highlight those notes worth a closer look.
Also about 20 years ago I was a civil servant and one job I had was voiding off and reissuing tampered giros, the complete forgeries came as part of the same batch. I was constantly amazed at what people thought it was worth trying. Some were clearly printed on a home inkjet printer. Even leaving the completely wrong feel of them to one side (too smooth and shiny compared to a real giro) the fine wavy writing forming the background turned into a 300dpi pixelated mess you could spot literally from six feet away.
I was once accused of trying to pass a counterfeit fiver at a chip shop. It was actually a real fiver, but it had been left in my jeans pocket and put through the washing machine. The brighteners in the soap powder fluoresced when the shopkeeper held it under the UV lamp, and called Mr. Plod. A very awkward half hour ensued (while my chips went cold) before he and the proprietor were satisfied of my innocence. Went hungry that evening :-(
I wasn't exactly accused of counterfeit but when coming south to Devon and attempting to pay at a pub with a 20-pound note printed by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the note got declined for "being expired". I failed to make the barkeeper understand that Scotland does in fact print perfectly valid GBP notes.
It says they were technicians, not that they were copier technicians. I'd imagine they were technicians in some other field, without copier expertise.
ETA: It does later say 'despite [their] being trained,' but that's also similarly vague about just what sort of training was meant.
"Technician" is a term that is all too readily abused (as in "Nail Technician"), as is "technology" for that matter, when you see it used to describe ingredients in cosmetics, most of which are just aqueous suspensions of fat globules with some colouring and vitamin E added.
Quite a lot of English words have Greek roots. The word τέχνη (techne) actually means, art, or craft, and λόγος (logos) means speech. The modern Greek, τεχνολογία (technologia), however, means the same as it does in English, because the meanings of words change over time. The modern meaning of "technology" has a very strong association with science and industry, particularly with built machinery. It is a million miles from some vacuous model spelling out the word hyaluronic as if someone is holding up primary-school cue cards to them. (see also: micelles, and how the "beauty" industry has suddenly discovered how surfactants work a century after the word was coined).
(edit - added English transliterations of those Greek words for those who don't read Greek...)
My favourite bit of logos-related etymology* is the word 'philology'. It looks like it would be another word where the '-logy' part means 'speech about', or 'study of', as in biology or astrology (back in the day when there was no proper astronomy yet), and presumably the study of 'phil(o)-', whatever that is, right? But it's actually the other way around here, the 'phil(o)-' means 'love (of)', as in audiophile or philanthopy, and '-logy' means 'words' or 'speech', so it actually means something like 'the love of language,' and is used as a near-synonym to linguistics.
Sorry, sidetracked a bit there, I was a big linguistics nerd in my youth, and it was a close second career choice for me back in the day.
* Yes, it's -logies all the way down.
… or ‘study of’, as in biology or astrology (back in the day when there was no proper astronomy yet),
There certainly was proper astronomy back then — see the Antikythera mechanism for an application of it.
"it's dihydrogen monoxide."
Ah, yes. DHMO. The well-known industrial solvent and coolant, which unbeknownst to most users, makes up a large percentage of virtually every cosmetic product on the planet. It is also present in all alcoholic beverages that are sold to the unsuspecting public. Note that beer and wine have more of this chemical by weight and percentage than stronger drink.
DHMO is also used in all commercial vegetable, fruit, nut, grain and meat production. Even after a thorough washing it can be detected in virtually every food product on the shelves at your local grocery. In some places in food production facilities it is so pervasive that one could quite literally drown in it.
My publicly accessible greenhouses have large, black on yellow CAUTION! DiHydrogen Monoxide spraying inside! Proceed at own risk! signs prominently posted ... My insurance agent noted this with approval.
"Some of the sales weasels I have dealt with had very little knowledge of what they were selling"
Only some? And very little? Really, that much?
Outside of startups (where people tend to wear many hats), I haven't seen a sales weasel who had anything resembling a clue about technology since the late 1980s or early '90s.
I am talking back in the late 80s/early 90s - the copier vendor known by the mis-spelled medieval device of ordnance had firmware in their colour machines (the crap logo copier 0.5x10^3) which wrote "Specimen" across anything it recognised as currency of certain denominations.
I am surprised that all copier manufacturers didn't have something similar - but then the tale in the article might refer to an even more dim and distant past.
Source - know the guy who wrote that bit of the firmware (at lkeast for the UK market).
Currency detection in copiers is a thing and has been for a while. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/EURion_constellation
Years ago when we had new shiny multi function copiers in our office we tried to copy a banknote, just to see how good the copy would be. It wouldn't do it and threw up a specific "currency detected" message. The only way we got it to work in the end was to cover the metal strip with a thin strip of post-it note, so that machine was obviously detecting the metal strip optically somehow.
The copy that came out obviously had a blank strip over where the metal strip should be so it was obviously not genuine. But the quality was surprisingly good. We reckoned that if done on the right paper rather than crisp hard copier paper and roughed up a bit, it might pass. This was in the UK when banknotes still had a paper feel to them, rather than the plastic of today. If course we never actually did it, we shoved the copies in the shredder and went back to the lab but I can easily understand how some people would be tempted.
We found this feature when we decided to photoshop a picture of the bosses face onto some £10 notes - he had a habit (on being told the price of some bit of laboratory equipment, computing equipment or chemical, genuinely,) of pushing his ears forward whilst exclaiming "How Much???!!!", then rubbing the bald spot on his head vigorously saying "I'll have to think about that one. Can you come up with a cheaper alternative?" So we had the bright idea of giving him his own currency. Needless to say the scanning head got about 1/3 of the way along the note before grinding to a halt with disgusting noise like someone was torturing a stepper motor and throwing an error which required a cold power cycle of the scanner itself to reset. We eventually found a note which referred us to some Federal Bill in the USA that required such a feature to be added to scanners and copiers.
I remember seeing a document on this from the US Treasury back in the 90s. At the time I thought 'how stupid, why don't you just make greenbacks harder to forge?' But of course the US Treasury gets what it wants and so we get the pattern of little yellow dots that all photocopiers now recognise. I wonder if there are other features that, say, a FourierTtransform would show up that are also used.
Many years ago - I'm sure pre-dating the use of that special patterns of dots on banknotes - a fine of mine was trying to photocopy bits of an Ordnance Survey map. Back then there must have been something in the copier's software to detect malicious use, and it misidentified the contour lines of the map as being characteristic of the type of linework used on a banknote. Instead of a copy of the map, the copier spat out a sheet of paper printed with the message "it is illegal to photocopy banknotes"
To be fair, photocopying the map was dodgy from a copyright point of view, so he was bang to rights.
The paper ones aren't cheap either!
But if you buy the paper one, you get the digital one as well these days, unless I've mis-read something.
Paper's always best, except for those two-sided tablecloths they do these days. Bring back the pocket-friendly Pathfinder I say :-)
The paper ones aren't cheap either!
It does slightly boggle the mind how the prices have increased since I first bought an OS map in (cough, cough) ... but an OS map is a thing of beauty and a joy until the major roads have to be revised, and it must cost a fortune to keep them all up-to-date (major roads notwithstanding).
Hmmm. Not sure you can resolve every pistcode to a geographic position within 3 feet. Some postcode areas are geographically quite large. the last 3 characters of a postcode give about 7000 permutations, which would be about 7000 square yards or a square of, er, less than a hundred yards on a side.
I can see the postcodes being distributed in some manner and the centres of each postcode being specified to within three feet.
In the UK, there are about 1.1 million different postcodes for (rough guess) 30 million households. So on average 30 households per postcode. There are also databases for all house numbers and house names per postcode, but I don’t think they have locations.
As far as the “3 feet” is concerned: I once went to a hotel and ended up 3 feet behind the fence at their back garden. Was almost a mile from there to the front entrance.
"the GPS mapping of *every* address to within 3 ft or something like that"
If that was the case, every address would have a unique post code. Barring flats/multiple occupancy buildings, that's clearly not the case. Many houses in a street will share their post code, hence the need to have the door number too. Theoretically, the door number (and maybe flat number) and post code should be all you need to address a letter. At least, when the post code system went national, that was the claim. I suppose people must've tried it. On the other hand, it can get interesting in more rural areas.
I generally put my return address on the back of a letter as simply
"From: <number> <post code>"
The one time it turned out to be necessary, the letter did get back to me successfully. Complete with a sticker with the full address printed on it - presumably the system still relied to some extent on humans needing to parse a conventional address..
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I live in a rural area -- the local posties have plenty of colourful language for the postcode database, which places my house (and others) a non-trivial distance from where they really are.
Cue many phone calls from bewildered delivery drivers, and problems with websites that have my house with the wrong name as well as the wrong place, despite it having been in the same place with the same name since the 1970's.
Currently, postcodes are assigned to a single street, as far as possible, or to one side of the street. I think I've had someone else's post with my postcode and a different street name. But one postcode contains many sub-numbered "delivery points", meaning doors or letterboxes.
At country crossroads, or down nameless short suburban side streets, some addresses are difficult to find. I expect that the puzzled post worker just asks a neighbour.
Royal Mail postcodes are delivery route identifiers. Some postal systems have postcodes which are area identifiers, but that's not the Royal Mail system.
Many postal systems also have delivery point identifiers (which are database primary keys), in addition to their postcodes. Has Royal Mail done this?
Australia has area-identifier postcodes, and many years ago added the delivery point identifiers. The postcodes are published free. The delivery point identifiers are only available under licence, which costs a lot. Delivery point identifiers addressing is required for bulk mail, and typically to get bulk-mail pricing, you have to go to a bulk-mail specialist, and they have the required delivery point database and licence.
As I recall, Ireland never got an area or route postcode system, and a couple of years ago introduced a public delivery point identifier, which they may be calling a 'postcode'
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In the OS defence, they do spend quite a lot of effort keeping them up to date. It's not as if we're still having to use the first edition from 1801.
FYI, Bing maps has an OS overlay in it of the 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 current editions.
Also, for those who like to peruse older maps, the National Library of Scotland have most OS maps up to the early 1970's in most scales. The 25inch to the mile maps are a thing of beauty.
In the OS defence
Bull. Shit. They are a gov't agency doing their job, funded by your tax dollars/Pounds/Euros right?
They have NO such defense. They're doing the job you're paying them to do, then paying them AGAIN for their end product.
The US gov't is about as broken as it gets, but there are some shining bits. We might have had Trump, but at least we don't have to pay for our USGS maps!
Not so much… this from their own website:
“Ordnance Survey Limited (company number 9121572) is a limited company incorporated in England and Wales. Our shares are 100% owned by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).”
So while the company is owned by the government, it’s a commercial company covering its costs…
Bill Bryson wrote about OS maps. pointing out that the US had nothing comparable available. He told of sitting on his favourite bench in the countryside, perusing his OS map, and finding that that very bench was marked on the map, because it had, appropriately, a Bench Mark on it.
Because in addition to flashing an error and (probably) notifying the technicians to call the Feds when they "detect" currency, color photocopiers and personal printers apply a coded pattern of micro-dots to pretty much everything they print.
They are clearly visible if you print a full page graphic that is light in color and were a major issue for artists and professionals on the older lower DPI gear especially. I remember seeing them on prints from my old bubble jet and wasting ages trying to "fix" them as a printing artifact. Years later I saw an explainer from one of the Defcon guys that broke down how it works.
Annoyingly, this would have worked just as well if it printed on the back side or edges, but they were hoping to be sneaky and that no one will notice.
Anyone else remember when computer software manuals were printed on green or red paper to try and deter little Johnny from having his dad duplicate the manual using his office photocopier?
Beta Basic for the ZX Spectrum is one I particularly remember - black ink on dark red paper. Barely readable by humans, never mind photocopiers. And using that replacement BASIC without a manual would have been a PITA.
(Pint for the author of Beta Basic. It was awesome and was what should have been in the Speccy's ROM from the get-go.)
There was, back in the 90s, a copy "protection" annoyance comprising a booklet of short codes. When you started the game it would ask for a random code (page 5, column 3, number 19). The booklet was printed as glossy black ink on matte black paper.
We were so annoyed by this that we sat and typed them out.
We had one of the first colour laser printers in our office. Canon, a monster weighing 350 pounds.
They had tried to talk to various governments about how to design bank notes that couldn’t be copied, but apparently nobody wanted to listen to them.
(They can’t copy water signs, can’t copy transparent materials, and have huge problems with lots of very fine wavy lines).
"I am talking back in the late 80s/early 90s - the copier vendor known by the mis-spelled medieval device of ordnance had firmware in their colour machines (the crap logo copier 0.5x10^3) which wrote "Specimen" across anything it recognised as currency of certain denominations."
That was probably one of the early digital copiers. The copiers in most offices around then were almost entirely optical in their process and had little if any smarts fitted, maybe a "digital" zoom which operated a server to adjust the lenses if you had a slightly more flash one. They certainly had no way of recognising what was being copied.
I believe that there is some software that prevents copying currency these days. I seem to remember the conversation when new high quality copiers came to the premises, and a colleague with extensive experience in printing mentioned that copying currency gets a watermark...
In the UK at least, when you photocopy money you see the invisible watermark on it. Can't remember right what it says tbh.
What's funny though is that even with this, some doughnuts still try it on. I worked in a bar in about 2008 and on a Sunday morning some bloke came to order a pint. Handed me a £20 note - and the moment I felt it I knew it was off. The dope had thought he'd be clever and photocopied a £20 note, without removing the watermark, printed on to two bits of paper glued together.
I told him that's a fake, and he needed to provide real money. He protested it was real money, I took the pint off him and said we're passing it to the Police so if he's adamant it's real he needs to take it up with them. He didn't hang around.
Not just copiers, but scanners, too. My simple Canon does-nothing-but-scanning scanner reports an "unknown error" when its innards detect what it thinks is currency.
See here for the watermark: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_Identification_Code
It's based on the printer's serial number. If you print anything that the government does not like, they can track you down by manufacturer (which store it was delivered to) and purchase records (what credit card it was purchased with).
I was called out to a machinery control room located near an ornamental lake on a swanky new housing estate. Vandals had broken in and damaged the controls which turned out to be superficial. Anyway, the police, acting on information received, tried to catch these neer-do-wells and did a stake-out a few nights later. On re-entering the premises the youths kicked-in the door, knocking unconscious the policeman behind the door and they then proceeded to set all the machinery running before running away.
The now-drained lake revealed stolen/dumped cars, motor bikes, cycles as well as the usual shopping trolleys etc. and a pong of decaying fish.....
(The policeman recovered his health quickly but not his dignity.)
I remember reading that colour laser copiers have code in the firmware that recognizes bank notes and distorts the image so that it doesn't print properly. Modern printers also encode the machine serial number forensically into everything they print. I suspect there is probably hacked firmware available with those features removed. It wouldn't be too hard to do.
When I was at university, the student union bar discovered that on one very busy evening they had accepted about 150 quid of counterfeit notes. It was dark, with disco lighting and smoke, but the notes weren't even remotely convincing. They were just photocopied, in black and white on regular paper, printed on one side only. Sounded like an inside job to me, but they never found the culprit.
Back in the late 80's, the company my father then worked for made what were basically large scale high quality fax machines, used to send newspaper and magazine pages around the world for local printing, rather than printing everything centrally and shipping tons of paper. Since magazine images are printed using half-toning, scanning these with a digital scanner produces interference patterns, known as moire. I spent one summer working on a mathematical model that would predict the patterns based on the known half-tone dot spacing and angle, and the scanning resolution, to allow scanning at resolutions that minimised the interference, but another guy was working on ways to break up the pattern so that it effectively became unnoticable. Once that was patented the BoE guys came calling, as those same interference patterns were generated when scanning the variable spacing curved lines on a bank note, and were a copying defence mechanism. "That won't work" they said. Oh yes it did.
I learned about scanning half-toned images and the likely consequent moire patterns from reading the Aldus PageMaker manual all those years ago :-)
I also used a similar effect using fine horizontal lines at different angles on two layers of OHP transparency to create rudimentary animation of data flows when teaching. (only became possible to do accurately when laser printers came along)
(only became possible to do accurately when laser printers came along)
Just remember to buy the correct acetates for a laser printer. Yup, I've seen the mess a "normal" one can create...
...on an even older topic, I worked out that stencil duplicators (waxy-paper multipart stencil things which you normally put in a typewriter and would then be very carefully laid on an ink drum for *very* fast printing (and plenty of arm exercise if you didn't have a machine with a motor)) didn't need holes punching in the waxy layer - it was sufficient, indeed best, just to "bruise" them. With an old ribbon left in my 8-pin dot matrix (to guard against clogging the pins) and a copy of AMX Pagemaker (Stop Press) in the BBC Micro I produced an underground school magazine which not only looked a million times better than the official rag done by cut-and-paste-and-photocopy, but which I could sell for 10p (eight sides of A4, which was a full 400k - 80trk double sided - floppy) and actually make a profit, unlike the photocopied mess the DT teacher was flogging.
"Just remember to buy the correct acetates for a laser printer. Yup, I've seen the mess a "normal" one can create..."
Me too. Visited a customer site to repair a "broken" laser printer only to find a non-suitable acetate sheet melted and wrapped around the fuser and no way to remove it and save the fuser roller. Charged them for the "user damage" and a new fuser, so full call-out fee, not covered by contract. They did it again a month later :-)
I don't know if this applies to the new polymer notes, but a favourite trick of mine to see if the money was real or not was to rub a bit of a till receipt on to the money. If ink came off on the receipt then it was real.
Fake money doesn't do that, only real money.
It worked on £10 and £20's. You'd see the brown/blue dye on the paper and you'd put it in the till.
Never bothered with the £5 notes as at the time they were either non-existent or absolutely battered it would be hard to tell either way. But no bother, you'd just hand it straight back to the next punter for change and they'd be glad of it as no one wanted £5 worth of coins.
There was a story-- a decade or two ago-- about a guy who was briefly arrested for using $2 US notes at a store.
For those who aren't aware, there has been a $2 note in circulation for a couple centuries, but it's not widely circulated and is more of a novelty-- which is why this guy had them: he ran a program for kids, and as part of the program, he would give each of the kids a $2 note.
On the fateful day, he had a bunch of extra notes on him, and he needed to make a purchase. The cashier had never seen a $2 note before, thought it was counterfeit, and called the police. I don't remember if it was the cashier or police who noticed the note's ink would smudge while rubbed, but they did, they called in someone from the US Treasury, and brought it to their attention. The Treasury agent then told the police that the notes were real and that the ink would smudge.
My wife once had a real £2 coin refused because it was one of the early ones that were all golden. The cashier said that unless it had a silver centre piece, it was a fake. SWMBO took it to the bank and complained, and they swapped it for a more modern one, which was accepted by the shop.
I also went into a (different) shop and received several one pound coins in my change. The next shop I went to noticed that the "Pound" coin that I was tendering was actually from some east African country, and refused to take it. I went back to the original shop, that had given me the change, and complained. They grudgingly took it back and gave me a genuine pound coin. On my way home, I suddenly realised that I didn't know the value of that coin, it could have been rare and worth a lot, but on reaching home I Googled it and fount that it was actually worth about 11 pence. Phew!
I remember that story as well. Once somebody with a brain finally showed up and confirmed that yes there IS such a thing as a $2 bill, instead of apologizing to the poor sap they had just left handcuffed to a light pole for the last couple of hours, they tried to justify it with some nonsense about "well, you just have to be careful in this Post-9/11 World."
An old high school teacher who was a bit of a prankster (or had a friend who was, depending on the accuracy of my memory from this long ago) claimed to have taken an old check register, withdrawn $50 in nice, fresh, consecutive-serial-number singles from the bank; and rubber-cemented them into the empty check pad to make a pad of $1's. He would pay for things by ripping off the appropriate number of 1's from his pad and watch people go nuts try to figure out whether they were legitimate currency. They were, of course, but money doesn't come that way so they couldn't be.
if the copies were good enough - they changed the bank notes to make it even harder
Up to a point....
The average improvement cycle for copiers, taken across all brands, is probably less than a year.
Bank of England notes get redesigned much less frequently.
I think the "test sheets" were a like "unit tests" This section has 50 line per inch, this section has 60 lines per inch, etc. How about this green or this bluish green, or a bit more yellow in it.
From these tests they could decide on the best options to design the next generation bank notes.
Over time they could also see which way the technology was going.
Even in the non-currency security printing business things are never taken anything less than seriously. It's the high tech end of the (non-electronic) printing industry. It's not just the designs and engraving, it's also the paper and the inks including, in some cases, print that's raised above the surface of the paper.
When I worked in a finance office from 2010, we took payments by cheque, postal order, or in cash about 2 to 4 times a week. The process was to photocopy all paperwork, including the remittance item, file the copies in polywallets in a ring binder, notify the relevant other office by email that payment had been received, and bank the payment down the road at the local Barclays branch. If the payment was in cash, one person had to count the notes in front of a witness, then photocopy all the notes front and back (quicker and more accurate than writing all the serial numbers down. Sometimes £1,000 in £20s. The copies were so good on the big contract rented supplied Xerox MFD/copier that we used to stamp 'COPY' over each note's image. The paper would have been a giveaway you'd think. The firmware didn't complain that we were copying currency. We stopped taking cash in person (or at all) in 2015.
Not counterfeiting, but one job I had I was an emergency temporary cover for the head cover who'd just been fired in a march-out-of-the-building-we'll-clear-your-desk type of way. My main task was to reproduce and document all the IT procedures that were stored in his head without him being involved in any way. I'm not sure what he'd been fired for, but part of the new procedures documentation was a rigourous asset movement process, so my suspicion was "asset leakage".
I saw my first fake of the newer plastic banknotes a few weeks ago, a £20 one. It felt rough to the touch, unlike the slippery feeling real ones, and it also had a very unconvincing hologram. It would probably pass muster in a busy, darkened bar or club. In this case, it had been tendered as payment for a coffee in my friend's cafe - the staff realised it was fake, and the smartly dressed lady who had proffered it immediately did a runner.
Posted anonymously because I worked at the Bank of England printing works in Loughton where notes were printed. There were some photocopiers in the early days that made excellent copies of notes. They were sold between counterfeiting gangs for large sums of money. I was told that when this was realised all machines were altered to prevent the major currencies being copied.
Mind you although security was very, very tight the used notes destruction people stole a lot by putting the better notes in their underwear. They nearly got away with it and would have done so if they had not tried to pay 20,000 in cash into a building society in Loughton High Street.
That was both brilliant and equally dumb.
Bear in mind they were stealing from the collections of notes being sent for disposal, so even the best ones would likely be in a pretty poor state by that point in their life. I suspect the reason they were caught had more to do with their attempting to deposit a large amount of cash at a branch just round the corner from the print works, as opposed to taking it a bit further afield to somewhere that might be somewhat less curious as to *where* that large pile of notes came from...
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand solved the issue simply:
All banknotes destined for destruction went through a punch press before they left the premises, so even if someone trousered them at the incinerator, they were already useless
Most other countries did/do something similar
"All banknotes destined for destruction went through a punch press before they left the premises, so even if someone trousered them at the incinerator, they were already useless"
Someone has got to get the notes to the punch press. Someone operates or supervises the punch press. It's just moving the "problem" elsewhere in the process. Possibly to a point in the process where security is or can be much better, but never totally infallible.
I suppose the best option is that all the notes go through a sorting machine that splits good, going back into circulation and bad, going down the chute into a stacker/baler for destruction (or direct to a shredder/furnace), no humans involved.
Would have been caught anyway quite quickly because notes in that state soon end up being sent for destruction a second time, and the serial numbers will give the game away. Even without depositing them in a bank, with a record of who did it, it would be obvious there was a leak and it wouldn't be hard to step up checks.
This isn't a new thing
There's the 1970s story of the guy who discovered he could get the payroll computer to reprint his paycheck (american spelling) by hitting the repeat button as it was printing - and promptly got caught when he attempted to bank 20+ of them at once
Who bothers with counterfeiting these days? Modern technology such as expensive GPUs lets you create fake money that you can use to pay for as many beers as you want, due to a similar advance in modern stupidity that believes it's worth exchanging for real money.
In Sweden there's an app called Swish made by several banks which allows the sending of cash to phone numbers (Swish being directly linked to your bank account). Shops can also use it for taking payment, just scan their QR code and authorise payment, then show the on-screen confirmation to the shop. Anybody see a problem here?
Turns out somebody created an alternative Swish app and sold it on to some young'ns. Works like the real app, you scan the QR code, it shows a confirmation on your screen to show to the shop. Except no money is sent... Cue shops now banning under-18s from paying with Swish :)
Another curious thing with the real app, is when you send money to a number, you need to authorise it with another app BankID. BankID always shows what you are authorising payment for, and for Swish it shows the name of the recipient, so you know you're sending it to the right person. Alternatively you can just put in a number you're interested in, then open BankID to see who is behind that number before cancelling payment.
Privacy? What's that...
I remember seeing about this story that while individuals who receive payments over Swish get a notification immediately, merchants only get a summary of transactions, I believe, once per hour or so. So plenty of time for those miscreants to be far away before they can be detected.
Also, can we please get the various mobile payment apps compatible across borders, already. Sweden's Swish and the Norwegian Vipps would be nice if you could start with, please? :-)
In the UK this use case is covered by people using the NFC in their phone linked to a bank account/card. That way merchants can still use the same terminals they use for credit/debit cards, and the punter just has to carry their phone.
I'm assuming this would also work with contactless terminals in other countries too.
In most countries now, because of the liberalization in the '70, it is the commercial bank, not the central bank, that are creating money by lending it to consumers.
(since they don't need anymore to have the cash in their coffers before lending a dime...)
I'd heard about bank note copy protection years ago.
It left me with rather mixed feelings. One one hand, yes anything that stops criminals getting away with stuff is a good idea.
But on the other hand. I don't like the idea of government agencies having a hand in deciding what we are allowed to scan/copy. I know there's a hell of a difference between the detecting of wavy lines and of specific images or lists of phrases. But even so......
Well here's the choice :
1) You do not restrict copying technology. Tens of Youtube channels pop up to tell you how to perfectly copy a €50 bill. Thousands of miscreant idiots decide to give it a try, and tens of thousands of businesses are left out of pocket, plus tribunals are chock full of of the penny-pinching, freewheeling morons.
2) You control copying technology. Counterfeiters are forced to put a lot of work and not a small amount of technology into making plausible fakes, and then they are caught anyway after a while. One court case, problem solved.
I don't know about you, but I prefer option 2.
I used a hand scanner and dot matrix printer to copy a £20 note. I printed in mono and just gave it to my boss as a joke one day. She thought it was funny and we adjourned to the local tavern as we did every Friday lunchtime to sup pints and moan about our jobs. She accidentally hands the fake, really crap note to the bar keep, we're about to pick up the pints and it was only as the bar keep was about to put into the till to get the change he noticed it was such a crap fake! Luckily he was mates with my boss, told her stop taking the piss and we paid with proper money. Almost got away with it!
I rememebr trying to photocopy a twenty in the first colour copier I came across around 1996, it promptly and politely told me to stop trying it on as what I was doing was most likley and offence and it wouldn't do it! Ha ha!!
However colour copiers were great for copying those copy protection sheets games came with that couldn't be copied by normal copiers, the trick was to use the copiers ability to remap colours, so when it saw cyan you remapped it to black and it simply copied somehting the game devs thought couldn't be copied. Yep, using a £12,000 colour copier to rip off a £20 game!
1996 I was taking delivery of a new Minolta CF900 colour copier. I got chatting to the copier business owner as he oversaw the delivery of the unit (It cost about £20K so he oversaw all deliveries that being a lot of money in the 90s). I asked if it could copy cash, he rather proudly stated that it would recognize the currency, and print out a distorted copy, so I did, and it did. Out came a distorted black and white copy. Undeterred I slapped the £10 back on the scanner, and pressed Zoom.. 1%..Copy. Out came a perfect replica of the note, and he went white. Using the manual feeder I was able to make a perfect double sided copy of the note.
A few days later he rang me back, to say he took my "feedback" to Minolta, who tested and confirmed the slip-up. But then they told him something that was unknown until then. They told him all colour copies, regardless of source material had yellow dots printed on them, invisible to the eye, but in the right circumstances these dots could be filtered, and the serial number of the offending machine revealed.
At some point the whole industry followed with this approach and now all colour printers and copiers hide the serial number of the machine on prints.
Back in the last century I worked at a college where there was an on-site printer who did all the photocopying etc.
Other than this, the only colour printer was in the graphics office where two delightful young ladies would produce presentation slides and print them onto transparacies for use with an overhead projector.
This colour printer used dye-sublimation in the form of a long roll of plastic with an A4 sized area for each colour (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). The used roll contained a negative of the printed material.
One of my colleagues decided to print a copy of his tax disc to put in his new car while waiting to sell his old car and was surprised to be caught out because someone looked at the used printer roll and found the evidence.
In the 1971 a university I knew had one high-volume xerox copier (they weren't yet a common thing). At first it was self service, but they added operators after they realized that everyone from that corner of town was ducking in to do some copying.
Shortly after colour photocopiers appeared I heard a story that a pair of dimwits found a particular Canadian bank note photocopied well, so they got their own copier and made a killing! They were only found out because they didn't pay the for the copier hire and it was repossessed. Sheets of bank notes printed only on one side were found in the copier!
Back when I was a young'un, utility bills came with a punch card that you sent back with your check. Being a new student at the local college with lots of IBM 029s, I figured out which columns had my amount, and punched a copy with a large negative amount.
Sure enough, the next bill arrived with a "do not pay - this is a credit amount" and I realized what I'd done. And didn't do it again.
Recall when colour photocopiers first became commercially available back in the very early 90s, 92/93, at the likes of the CES show.
Cue smarmy sales types proudly boasting how it would copy anything, and everyone producing a fiver. The copies were superb. The only mechanism preventing ‘counterfeiting’? The heavy brass plate on the top front of the copier, stating it were not to be used for copying currency or passports.
Great on call story... though you knew at the start it would end in tears, and jail time.
But the bigger question is the pluralisation of Genius. Geniuses or Genii. I myself prefer Genii.
And don't get me started on the singular of "confetti", see Sheldon Lee Cooper for his take on this.
Happy weekend to all of you from sunny Manchester UK.
Genii is correct. Not all latin words ending on -us, however, are pluralized that way while you can be absolutely sure that anything remotely Latin or Italian ending on "i" must never be defiled by an appended "s". Unless you're born west or north of the Limes and a barbarian anyway. In which case you shouldn't be literate unless you're a literate but ignorant barbarian.
Presuming that an Iraqi banknote’s raw material is convincingly similar to that of a US banknote, the dimensions of the 5000 dinar banknote would be a close match to those of US banknotes; Iraqi banknotes of smaller denominations would be too narrow.
Perhaps an even more suitable raw material for forging a higher denomination US banknote would be a washed and bleached genuine US one dollar banknote. (Given the latter’s lack of embedded security features, the counterfeited denomination might be based on a 1990s original.)
How well a counterfeiter’s inks mimic those of the genuine product is another matter.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall I was working for a well known copier company in a team doing IT work in Eastern Europe and Russia.
One colleague was once held for questioning by post-Soviet Russian (or perhaps it was Ukranian, it was a while back) border guards who had no concept of what a photocopier actually was but had twigged quite quickly that such a device could be used to copy currency and so somebody working for a manufacturer of such a device clearly shouldn't be travelling into their country!
It took a few phone conversations with the folks at the regional sales office to clear that one up and have him released.