US counterfeit technician pleads guilty to keeping some of the real money for himself

Shaun Qureshi was supposed to return the real bucks to whomever had flagged them for inspection. But for more than a year, he kept some of the authentic money for himself.
Shaun Qureshi was supposed to return the real bucks to whomever had flagged them for inspection. But for more than a year, he kept some of the authentic money for himself. PHOTO: ST FILE

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Shaun Qureshi's federal job was to examine suspicious currency and determine whether it was counterfeit.

The Bills came in from banks, shops and other institutions that thought there might be something awry, and contacted law enforcement.

The government would take the fakes out of circulation. And Qureshi was supposed to return the real bucks to whomever had flagged them for inspection.

But for more than a year, Qureshi kept some of the authentic money for himself, court files show.

The Maryland resident who began working for the Secret Service's Washington, D.C., field office in 2009 as a "counterfeit technician" started small. Prosecutors said that nearly every day over 22 months, he pilfered between US$20 and US$200 from the bills he was reviewing on his job, accumulating at least US$8,000 from January 2013 through October 2014.

He tripped himself up when he inadvertently included some counterfeit $100s during one of his cash deposits to his personal bank account, according to court records.

Qureshi, 34, pleaded guilty Friday in US District Court in the District of Columbia to one felony charge of illegal conversion of property. He faces sentencing in October.

Glenn Ivey, his attorney and former state's attorney for Prince George's County, declined to comment on the case when reached Monday. Qureshi did not return calls to his home. He no longer works with the Secret Service, but the agency declined to say when he left.

Authorities said in court files that Qureshi wasn't caught early because businesses that turned over suspicious bills never expected to get them back if the money turned out to be real. And at the time, the Secret Service did not record the bills coming in, prosecutors said, leaving Qureshi with "access to genuine (currency) that were not tracked or documented."

Qureshi's sloppiness exposed him, according to court files. He was caught in October 2014, after making seven cash deposits over several days to County First Bank in LaPlata, Maryland, that consisted of 13 US$100 bills and one US$50 bill.

County First Bank determined that five of the US$100 bills Qureshi had deposited were counterfeit, court documents show. Apparently, the court papers say, Qureshi "failed to inspect the (currency) closer to determine their authenticity."

His plea agreement requests the judge impose a sentence of six months probation, including three months of home detention when he appears in court Oct 29. He also agreed to pay restitution of US$8,000. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and a US$250,000 fine.