US & Canada

American arrested in Uganda over $2m 'currency fraud'

A pile of fake currency in Uganda
Image caption A pile of counterfeit currency was found during a search of the suspect's home in Uganda

US authorities have arrested an American in Uganda for allegedly leading a large international counterfeiting ring.

Ryan Gustafson, 27, was charged with conspiracy and counterfeiting outside the US after the fake currency was used at multiple American businesses.

The US Secret Service traced the money to Kampala, where they say they found a counterfeit ring also producing euros, rupees and various African currencies.

The suspect faces 25 years in prison.

"We will hold cyber criminals accountable and bring them to justice no matter where they reside," US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton wrote in a statement.

Fake US currency was discovered at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, retail stores and businesses and traced to a postal box in the area.

Federal agents determined the currency was being sent from Uganda. A fingerprint on one of the packages led them to Mr Gustafson, a US citizen who previously resided in Texas.

Image caption The search in Uganda uncovered a pair of Anon Hands, used as gloves to obscure the wearer's fingerprints

Mr Gustafson is said to have located couriers through an online forum and established contact with them through private message.

The Secret Service coordinated with Ugandan authorities to set up an undercover sting operation to purchase counterfeit currency from the suspect.

He was arrested, and a subsequent search of his home netted a cache of fake Ugandan shillings, Congolese francs, Ghanaian cedis, Indian rupees and euros, as well as various counterfeiting materials.

US authorities estimate the suspect flooded the market with nearly $2m (£1.28m) in counterfeit currencies.

Mr Gustafson has been charged with conspiracy, selling and dealing in counterfeit currency, and unlawful possession of ammunition.

He faces a lengthy prison sentence and a fine of $500,000.

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