Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pounds Sterling]1,548,676,518,922; in What Would Have Been the Biggest Fraud Ever, This 69-Year-Old Man Tried to Steal

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pounds Sterling]1,548,676,518,922; in What Would Have Been the Biggest Fraud Ever, This 69-Year-Old Man Tried to Steal

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL CHESTON

A BRILLIANT but flawed forensic scientist was jailed for six years today for plotting a multi-trilliondollar fraud.

Graham Halksworth, 69, planned to pull off the greatest fraud in criminal history - swindling the US government out of $2.5 trillion ([pounds sterling]1,548,676,518,922).

His remarkably ingenuous and audacious scheme involved US Treasury bonds packed into 22 cases stamped with the crest of the American golden eagle.

He was betrayed by bad spelling and a faulty grasp of history.

Jailing him today, Judge William Birtles said: "Your motivation could only have been one of greed." He described Halksworth as "an incompetent conspirator" but added "the lack of sophistication does not reduce the seriousness of the offence. The potential loss to a financial institution was enormous."

The grammar school boy from Oldham had developed a brilliant career in specialist printing and had become a member of the Forensic Science Society.

He was seconded to the Home Office and in 1967 played a major role in inventing a new fingerprinting system for Scotland Yard and joined a small company providing forensic science equipment to police forces around the world.

But he never got the recognition he felt he deserved for his work.

This snub rankled so deeply that he turned his genius for authenticating historical documents bonds to dishonestly make his fortune.

His scheme involved the daring claim that the bonds had been secretly issued by the US government to Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kaishek in 1934 in exchange for 125,000 tons of Chinese gold but the plane carrying the IOUs had crashed in the Philippines and had stayed hidden for 60 years until recently surfacing.

The idea was to get credit by offering the bonds to financial institutions together with authentication and using the story that they were backed by gold held by the US government. …

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