Forget cocaine: Peru's big money-maker is making money—the fake variety. Counterfeiting has taken off in the country, which has overtaken Colombia as the largest source of fake US currency in the last two years, the AP reports. The phony money typically finds its way into the US, Argentina, Venezuela, or Ecuador, via false-bottom suitcases, books, and food; it's even ingested. Over the past decade, $103 million in fake US dollars "made in Peru" have been seized—nearly half since 2010.
"It's much more profitable than cocaine," an investigator says, noting that after expenses a counterfeiter can earn $20,000 in real money for every $100,000 in fake bills; three times that amount can be produced in 5 days. One thing that sets Peru apart is its process: While most other counterfeiters use sophisticated inkjet printers, Peruvians finish each bill by hand. "Once a note is printed they will throw five people (on it) and do little things, little touches that add to the quality," says a Secret Service agent. Still, the bills do have what GlobalPost calls a "fatal flaw": They're made from low-quality paper that comes apart when exposed to water. Click for more from the AP's report, including its story of a 13-year-old counterfeiter who was nabbed.