Well guys, I’m back with another installment of the life and times of Johnny Mack. My apologies for getting a bit waylaid with last week’s blog by turning this counterfeit story into three parts.
Johnny’s opening to the Counterfeit Money scam can be found at “The Office Part 2”
“The counterfeits” London 1981
As I’ve already explained the UK was awash with snide banknotes, everybody was at it! Well everybody I knew that is. It got so competitive that small crews were having to head out of the city into the suburbs’ caning small stores’ gas stations and the like. Using a £20 snide note they would usually purchase something that cost under a £pound and then pocket the change. Where there’s a small gang with 4-5 in it, each member could easily hit as many as a hundred plus small retail outlets in a day. But as I’ve already said small businesses had cottoned on to these little crews traveling the length and width of the UK. Most had installed counter measures’ such as ultra-violet lights and pens that could detect a snide note in seconds.
CCTV became the best measure used for putting a stop to these little crews. Over a short time it became the best deterrent in the war against the counterfeiters. Even if they had passed a few over the counter and got clean away, they were now getting rounded up at a later date because the law had recognised one or more by viewing the tapes. That meant if they got nicked for passing one note, they would end up getting nicked for every note they had previously passed. If the law already knew of them, the counterfeit squad would sometimes put them on “Obo” (Observation) The aim being that the crew who were passing them would eventually lead the squad to the bigger fish that were supplying them.
The laser printer quickly became obsolete thus putting an end to widespread distribution. But of course you still had the odd few that would try their luck by using mugs to pass them over the counter. But they never reined for long and would usually end up getting banged up when one of their own mugs grassed on them.
However for me it was completely different because the notes that were about to come my way were printed using forged printing plates. They were of the highest quality, having everything from the right paper inclusive of the watermark, right down to the silver strips. They even fooled the banking system for a while because they could withstand all the tests including the ultraviolet etc. The firm that had these plates didn’t want to use them for single purchases. No far from it because they had bigger and better plans for their product while it lasted.
My involvement came one night when a pal of mine I hadn’t seen in a while got together for a drink. He trusted me enough to tell me what he was up to and also knew I could be a potential client.
He showed me two crispy brand new $100 notes and laid them out on a table in front of me. With a big confident grin he asks me to pick out the snide one. I wasn’t that familiar with US currency, having only used it a few times when working as a taxi driver. So in fairness I couldn’t really tell the difference just by looking at them. However it was the feel and smell of them that triggered it for me. Just touching them made me think that both were genuine. I had to admit that they had me fooled because I couldn’t tell the difference. When he pointed out the one that was the snide, I asked him how could he tell which one was which. What he said next got me really excited because this was starting to look like a nice bit of business for me. “The serial numbers Johnny, the fucking numbers, that’s the only way I can tell” It must be obvious to you all what my next question was to be…Yep you got it “How much and how many.” That’s when he told me that there was as much as I wanted so long as it exceeded the minimum amount, which was $10,000 real. For that amount I could buy $100,000 snide, giving me $90,000 profit, nice little earner wouldn’t you say?
The only problem I saw here was how was I going to get shot of them to make that sort of profit? The safest way was to sell them on, yet that would only make me the most $10,000 profit, so I had to think…and think fast at that. I went and saw Johnny McAvoy who was the brother of “Brinks Matt gold robber Mickey McAvoy. Johnny was gob smacked after I showed him one using the same technique as my pal done to me. He couldn’t pick the snide either and ended up buying $100,000 snide for $20,000 real. But when he got back to me, he told me that the only way he could earn a decent profit was to buy a $1,000,000
He was right; the safest way to move them on was to sell in bulk. But when you’re doing that amount of business the price of purchase has to come down. You see I was acting on behalf of my pal, then I was selling to Johnny who would then sell them on to another and no doubt he would do the same and so on. You can only have one middleman, not three or four because the profit margins diminish rapidly. I got back in touch with my pal asking him if he could get me UK pounds rather than US dollars. He said that plates for UK currency were being made as we spoke but once they were complete only selected people were to get a crack at them. What he meant by that was his employers only wanted buyers who would buy shit loads at a time. It was so bloody frustrating having access to all that cheap dough, yet not having the money to buy it. They knew what they were doing all right, by only wanting to do business with those who could shell out a minimum of £250,000 real.
For that amount they would get a £1, 250, 000, a clear million pound profit if used in the correct way. The thing was, though I couldn’t get the type of dough needed. Yeah I hear you, why didn’t I spread it around with the guys in the office. The thing was, as I’ve already said there was only room for one middleman and apart from that my pal ask me to keep it tight-lipped.
To cut to the chase I ended up working for this little crew by becoming a delivery boy. Without meeting anyone apart from my pal, I had no idea who I was working for. The money earned from being a courier was worked out on a percentage basis, so the more you dropped off the more you got. My first few drops were all to foreigners who would fly in one night and ship out with there parcels the next.
Most of the business was conducted in hotels. I would check in to a pre-paid plush room under an alias, then await a call from reception. The geezer I was to meet was probably the same as me, a courier. There was little conversation between us apart from key words that identified us to each other. So all in all it was strictly business, which suited me fine. I won’t bore you with the details on how the money was exchanged, but lets just say it was done in such a way that both of us were happy.
There was never anymore than the two of us doing business but during my first few drops I had my gut feeling that I was being watched. I suppose where I was coming away from these exchanges with a suitcase full of genuine cash. They needed to be sure I could be trusted and not be one of those who would have it away on their toes. It was a well-put together firm I was involved in because they made sure I only knew what I needed to know, real professionals.
I’m sure if I had got tempted and decided to have it away on my toes with the loot, I doubt I would have got very far. But I’m old school which means I have respect for those I work with and wouldn’t dream of turning anyone over. I have said in my earlier blogs about gaining respect; it had to be earned over years by being loyal and trustworthy. How else do you think I ended up carrying huge amounts of cash for this firm? It certainly wasn’t because of my pal saying I was a sound geezer. No far from it because it went deeper than that, they most definitely had me checked me out via the criminal fraternity. For all I know I could have known them but they decided not to make themselves known. You see, I didn’t need to know who was behind this set up, just as long as I got paid, which I did. So I only needed to know what I needed to know and that was it, these guys were real pros and I loved that.
I can talk openly about this because I got nicked in the end, but escaped custody and went on the run. In fact I escaped twice and during that time I brought the Hampshire police to shame, well not the entire force, just a few of their officers. But in the end they won the day by making sure I was brought to book.
They never caught me bang to rights on the counterfeiting operation, I was grassed up, but in my case it felt more like a betrayal.
In next week’s blog I’ll tell you all about that betrayal and how it affected me. Because one thing is for sure I come out of that with a different outlook on my future within the criminal fraternity.
Till next week, take it easy guys and be lucky.