On Thursday, December 18th 2014 U.S. authorities announced the arrest of Ryan Andrew Gustafson, aka Jack Farrel, identified as the counterfeiter known as “Willy Clock” and Texan. A press release from the Justice Department explains what happened: in December, 2013 the Secret Service began investigating the passing of counterfeit bills, believed to be manufactured in Uganda, at Pittsburgh-area retail stores and businesses. The press release says that an individual identified only as J.G. had used the notes and was renting a postal box at The UPS Store on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Law enforcement then learned that J.G. had received three packages addressed from Beyond Computers, a business located in Kampala, Uganda. Agents then raided J.G.’s home and postal box, finding $7,000 in counterfeit $100, $50, and $20 dollar bills located within two hidden compartments inside the envelopes. Here’s where Willy Clock messed up – a fingerprint on a document inside one of the packages was identified as belonging to Ryan Andrew Gustafson.
The Secret Service then worked with Ugandan authorities to capture an individual only identified as A.B., the individual who sended the packages. A.B. admitted to sending the packages and explained that an American known as “Jack Farrel”, along with another person, provided him with the counterfeit notes to ship. The Secret Service then used facial recognition and a description provided by A.B. to then further confirm that Jack Farrel was Ryan Andrew Gustafson. According to the affidavit, J.G. met Willy Clock on Tor Carding Forum, a fairly public and popular cybercrime forum. In January 2014, Willy Clock told J.G. that he had established his own forum called Community-X, an invite-only site dedicated to the selling of counterfeit bills.
A confidential informant was used to arrange a meeting with Willy Clock to purchase counterfeit bills. The informant met Farrel’s associate and completed the purchase. Agents followed the associate back to Farrel’s home and reported the location to the Secret Service, who then turned it over to the Ugandan authorities. A raid of Willy Clock’s house revealed two million Ugandan shillings ($725.96 USD), $180,420 in counterfeit bills, counterfeit Euros, Indian Rupees, Ugandan Shillings, Congo Francs, and Ghana Cedis; printers and computers, inks and ink jet cartridges, paper cutters, glue sticks, anon hands, and other counterfeiting paraphernalia. Anon hands are life-like, rubber molds that fit like a glove over a user’s hand to conceal their identity while still allowing fine motor control.
A raid also uncovered pamphlets titled “Give a Child Hope Today” with counterfeit notes between glued together pages, one of the many ways that counterfeiters avoid arousing suspicion during shipping.
This happens all the time – users get established in the community, stop putting their security first and prioritize profit, and then get sloppy and get caught. Willy Clock was a very large power player in the counterfeiting business and was so large that he had multiple resellers dedicated to selling his notes. Willy Clock produced super AA++ notes, a notation that means the bills could pass almost every test except for the magnetic ink test – automated teller machines can magnetically determine if a note is valid. Willy Clock’s bills were almost an art and he developed a reputation accordingly, having resellers selling on the Evolution Market, Agora Market, and many other deepweb marketplaces.
Anon hands that were recovered in the raid of Willy Clock.