Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vanishing Act: $1.2 Million Gone from Passenger Jet Bound for NYC

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vanishing Act: $1.2 Million Gone from Passenger Jet Bound for NYC

Article excerpt

When passengers boarded Swiss International Air Lines Flight 17 from Zurich to New York City last weekend, they probably had no idea that the cargo hold beneath their feet was also functioning as a bank vault, carrying tens of millions of dollars.

A U.S. bank was sending cash from its Swiss office back home -- something that occurs with surprising frequency, even in the digital age. While money can be wired, credited, debited and transferred around the world in a split second, there has never been more U.S. currency in circulation, and the amount keeps growing. And that cash moves around frequently, often carried discreetly in the belly of commercial airliners.

Someone, it seems, was wise to the shipment on the Swiss plane.

By the time the cash reached its destination, a Federal Reserve center in the New York area, over $1 million had vanished.

"We are investigating the apparent disappearance of $1.2 million in U.S. currency," James Margolin, an FBI spokesman, said Tuesday.

Much about the theft remained unknown, including exactly where and when the money went missing.

The last time the money was seen was before it was loaded onto the plane in Zurich, according to a law enforcement official who insisted on anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

The cash that was stolen -- 12 packets of $100 bills, each totaling $100,000 -- had been placed in a secure container that was then placed inside a larger container, the official said.

The flight arrived at Kennedy International Airport at 2 p.m. Saturday. The container was unloaded and sent to the Federal Reserve center. Only when it arrived there did the authorities discover that the money was missing.

"What we don't know is at what point in the journey that the money disappears," the law enforcement official said.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Reserve in the New York area did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The name of the U.S. bank involved in the transaction was not released. The news of the theft was reported Tuesday by The New York Post.

Every day millions of dollars in physical currency is moved around the globe for a variety of reasons. …

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