A man who claims he is the best counterfeiter in the world, Frank Bourassa, has been allowed to go free after turning over a huge quantity of fake U.S. $20 bills that authorities say are “not detectable by the naked eye.”
Bourassa, a resident of Trois Rivieres outside Montreal, Canada, spent only a month and a half in jail and Canadian authorities agreed earlier this year that they would not extradite him to the United States for prosecution.
He walked out of court on March 28 after paying a $1,500 fine in Canadian dollars.
“I’m safe, absolutely,” Bourassa told ABC News in an interviewed to be broadcast tonight on "20/20".
“They can’t do nothing about that,” he said after freely admitting how he set up a secret printing operation capable of producing $250 million in fake U.S. currency.
Bourassa’s fake $20 first showed up in Troy, Michigan in 2010 and U.S. and Canadian authorities spent almost four years tracking the source to Bourassa.
The fake notes have since been found across the U.S., from California to Nevada to Florida to states in the Northeast.
“It was important to get this right away, get this off the street, get this off the market,” said Tasha Adams, an investigator with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team (ICET).
“To detect the counterfeit on this one is very difficult,” added RCMP investigator Dan Michaud.
Bourassa said he spent two years studying the details about currency security on the website of the U.S. Secret Service to learn how to produce his fake money.
Security features added to the $20 in 2003 have not been updated since then, a Secret Service official confirmed.
U.S. bills are “the easiest of them all” to counterfeit, Bourassa said, because they are not printed on polymer.
“Even third world countries in Africa have polymer bills already,” he said.
He revealed how he began his operation by tricking paper mills in Germany and Switzerland to produce the unique paper made of cotton and linen used in the production of American bills.
“You have to start with that,” he said, to create the right feel when people handle the fake bills. “It’s got this crisp feel. If you don’t have that you’ll have nothing.”
Then, Bourassa said he scoured the internet to find suppliers in China that could provide ink and security features similar to what is used in the genuine bills.
“You know, go big or go home,” boasted Bourassa, who had previously served short stints in prison as a small time drug dealer.
The European paper mills shipped him five palettes of the special paper and Bourassa recalls the day it arrived.
“That was the coolest thing on earth cause from there, once his is done, the rest is nothing,” he said.
Authorities say Bourassa had help from others, including an actual skilled printer, who helped him locate an off-set press to produce the bills and other equipment to add non-consecutive serial numbers.
Once the money was printed, he sold it in bulk to criminal groups. “One million in fakes was $300,000,” Bourassa said.
Bourassa regarded his accomplishment as a complete victory over the United States government.
“It was, like, screw you,” he said.
In the end, Bourassa’s arrogance caught up with him.
An undercover agent in one of the criminal groups buying Bourassa’s fakes helped lead authorities to his secret operation in Quebec.