U.S. Citizen Led an International Counterfeit Currency Operation Headquartered in Uganda
PITTSBURGH – A United States citizen who resided in the Republic of Uganda pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy to manufacture/pass/transfer/sell counterfeit currency, conspiracy to launder money, and committing counterfeiting acts outside the United States, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Ryan Andrew Gustafson, aka Jack Farrel, aka WillyClock, age 31, pleaded guilty to three counts before Chief United States District Judge Mark Hornak.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Ryan Gustafson was leading an international counterfeit U.S. currency operation headquartered in the Republic of Uganda, which flooded the United States and Uganda with more than $2 million in counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes. Although counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes were being manufactured and distributed in Uganda, by December 2013, these Ugandan-manufactured counterfeit bills were being passed in Pittsburgh-area retail stores and businesses, specifically, in Oakland, Carnegie and McCandless Township. The scheme quickly spread to cities around the country. The bills were being advertised, bought and sold on a Dark Net website created by Gustafson called Community-X that was dedicated to the selling and passing of these counterfeit bills.
According to additional information provided to the court, the participants were producing counterfeit $100, $50 and $20 bills, packaging the counterfeit currency disguised as "Give a Child Hope Today" pamphlets, and shipping the packages to individuals they met through online criminal forums. In total, approximately $1.8 million fake notes were passed and seized in Uganda. In the U.S., approximately $270,000 in counterfeit currency was passed and seized. The criminal conspirators were passing the counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes in exchange for legitimate currency in the United States, Uganda and other countries.
Judge Hornak scheduled sentencing for July 23, 2019. The law provides for a total sentence of 45 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant U.S. Shardul S. Desai is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The U.S. Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Homeland Security/Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Ryan Andrew Gustafson.