A U.S. citizen living in the Republic of Uganda pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Pittsburgh to making and distributing about $2 million in counterfeit money, including more than $200,000 circulated in Oakland, Carnegie and McCandless, prosecutors said Friday.
Ryan Andrew Gustafson, 31, also know as Jack Farrel and Willy Clock, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make, transfer or sell counterfeit U.S. currency, conspiracy to launder money, and committing counterfeiting acts outside the United States.
Prosecutors say Gustafson lead a counterfeit U.S. currency ring headquartered in Uganda.
In December 2013, the counterfeit bills were being passed in Pittsburgh-area retail stores and businesses and the scheme quickly spread to cities around the country.
The government said 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 court information, the ring printed counterfeit $100, $50 and $20 bills, packaged the fake currency disguised as “Give a Child Hope Today” pamphlets, and shipped packages to individuals they met through “online criminal forums.”
Gustafson could receive up to 45 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million, or both. His actual sentence will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and any prior criminal history.