By Scott Barman for the Gold & Silver Political Action Committee …..
From the Political Coordinator
Every four years we elect a president and vice president. By definition, elections are politically motivated exercises and candidates look to convince you to elect them and not their opponent.
I used an opportunity to have a discussion about the state of congress with two lobbyists. Both are former staffers working with members on opposite sides of the aisle and have been working in the halls of congress since early in the Clinton administration.
Our colorful conversation led to the conclusion that unless a budget bill is passed, even the non-controversial bills to rename post offices and other facilities will wait until after the election. It took until September 29 for congress to pass a continuing resolution that keeps the government funded until December 9.
Earlier in the month, The Hill called September “groundhog month for Washington” since the issues facing this upcoming post-budget and the post-election congressional session is no different than it has been in the last few years. Watchers of what is happening on Capitol Hill are not sure that even the “cleaning the barn” will have any effect on overall policy.
The election is only a month away and early voting is beginning in some states. It is doubtful that any major legislation will be completed until the lame duck session. For Gold & Silver PAC members, there should be no congressional discussions about the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 598) or the Remote Transactions Parity Act (H.R. 2775).
Prop Money Still a Problem
Last month we reported about the use of money marked as being for a movie prop was limited to the southeast. The problem has migrated north to Wisconsin, Michigan and Idaho. Local police and the FBI have asked merchants to watch for prop currency.
During an FBI briefing, an investigator reported that most of the prop currency is being used for transactions between individuals and in places like convenience and grocery stores. But that has not stopped the criminals from trying to use the bogus currency in places like lower-end jewelry stores and pawn shops.
FBI warns that the rate of prop money will increase until the success rate of being able to pass them is reduced.
Although eBay claims to not allow copied or counterfeit currency on their site, some have figured out how to word their listings to get past the keyword filters. There are no restrictions on Etsy, the site primarily for arts, crafts, and vintage items.
An eBay representative said they would look into the issue before commenting further. Attempts to contact someone from Etsy were unsuccessful.
Bleached counterfeiting also on the Increase
Police and FBI in Michigan have been reporting an increase in the passing of counterfeit currency made from bleached lower denominations with a new denomination printed on the same paper. Counterfeiters use a $5 Federal Reserve Note and a bleaching agent to remove the ink. Then they use high-quality scans of real currency to print a higher denomination on the paper.
The purpose of this counterfeiting method is to allow the counterfeit note to pass the iodine pen test and the cashier who will take a passing glance looking for a watermark, not if the watermark is correct.
Images of real currency can be made using today’s better quality scanners and digital microscopes. Criminals can get around the features built into these devices to prevent scanning money using simple techniques. Although the process is more challenging than a single scan, a patient criminal can create an image that has fooled law enforcement. Good quality digital images can be purchased from other criminals on the “dark web,” the area of the Internet occupied by like-minded individuals.
The U.S. Secret Service has warned to take care during what appears to be unusual cash-based transactions. The examples they gave were people paying for a small item with a high-denomination note, such as buying gum or candy using a $20 or $50 note. It was suggested that buying large amounts of bullion or other precious metals using cash could be suspicious as well. In those cases, it was advisable to check every note or even insist that such a transaction should be done using secured funds such as a verifiable wire or bank transfer.
Bank of England issues plastic money
In an attempt to reduce counterfeiting, the Bank of England began to issue £5 notes made from polymer plastic. The new notes feature the portrait of William Churchill on the reverse.
Polymer notes were the invention of the Royal Bank of Australia and have been used for Australian currency since the 1990s. Since then, other countries have used the polymer substrate for their currency including the Bank of Canada.
Although polymer notes are supposed to be more secure, both Australia and New Zealand have seen an uptick in the use of counterfeit currency. Police in both countries are advising merchants to examine the currency more carefully to look for the security features built into the note. They are also suggesting that merchants crumble the notes. If the note remains crumpled then it is likely the note is counterfeit.
During an interview with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in 2015, the use of polymer for U.S. currency has not been considered. Aside from there being an issue with the supply coming from a foreign government, the polymer substrate cannot be printed in the speed required for BEP to keep up with the demand. The analogy provided was that the BEP prints more $1 notes in six months than most central banks produce for all their currency during an entire year.
Opportunity For Students To Learn About Numismatics
In my effort to help the less fortunate and promote numismatics, I came across a listing on the fundraising site DonorsChoose.org to raise money for a class in Juaniata Park Academy in Philadelphia that said the “students would love to expand their knowledge and be able to identify with the real world today and visit places around the area.” This would allow the class to visit the Philadelphia Mint and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank to learn more about our money.
The teacher leading this effort is asking for $400 to lease the buses for the trips. Along with the other fees and a suggested 15-percent donation to DonorsChoose.org, the project can be funded for $512.92. However, Dottie Lutz Foundation, an advocate for education in the Philadelphia area, is matching donations to this project. With the matching donation, all the teacher has to raise is $256.46!
It is my hope that allowing these school children to see the exhibits and learn how money is made can inspire some these children to become collectors. Since these are inner-city students in a minority community, adding this diversity to the hobby is one of the best gifts we can give the hobby.
If you can help make this happen for these students, please visit DonorsChoose.org and make your donation. Your help is appreciated!
To read more about this effort, visit coinsblog.ws.
Summary of Numismatic-related Legislation
H.R. 6025: American Innovation $1 Coin Act
- Sponsor: Rep. James Himes (D-CT)
- Introduced: September 14, 2016
- Summary: Redesign and issuance of $1 coins honoring innovation, innovators, and pioneers from each State, the District of Columbia, and each territory.
Referred to the House Financial Services Committee.
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If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. “Letters to the Editor” are appreciated and may appear in a future newsletter.
Scott Barman, Political Coordinator for the Gold & Silver PAC
Barry Stuppler, Chairman Gold & Silver Political Action Committee