$147-M bogus federal notes seized at NAIA
CUSTOMS authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) confiscated on Thursday some 147 billion U.S. dollars in treasury notes from an 81-year-old Guam-bound passenger.
Lethia S. Aragon, a Filipino-American, was held after the 294 notes, denominated in US$ 500,000 each, were found in her possession by airport security screeners Wednesday night.
The bonds were found in Aragon’s carry-on luggage after an x-ray security scanner traced extra-ordinary things indicating metallic objects inside, according to Teresita Roque, Customs deputy collector for passenger services.
Aragon was accompanied by an unidentified relative who showed all the contents consisting of bracelets, rings, and a Michael Jordan wristwatch. However, a metal case containing the Federal notes, hidden beneath the valuable things, was accidentally discovered by authorities.
Roque said they called up the US Embassy who sent Department of States Security Service special agent Douglas F. Carter and Michael Morley, Homeland Security Investigator for the authenticity of the Federal notes.
The two American security personnel, using gadgets to detect fake items such as notes and bonds, officially declared the Federal Reserve notes as fake.
When US embassy learned about the bogus notes, they requested the Philippine Customs to burn them in the presence of US diplomatic security personnel.
The unidentified relative of Aragon was allowed to board the Continental airlines flight CO 934 Wednesday night, while she remained in custody for further investigation.
Aragon said that she bought the notes from a group of “traders” that include an American for P100,000.
Aragon admitted that she was ignorant about Federal notes but was forced to shell out several thousand bucks hoping she would be able to withdraw or encash it in a bank in the US.
Roque said Aragon was allowed to leave the country after the US agents declared she is not liable of anything.
However, the American agents allowed Aragon to keep the metal box as souvenir. PNA