'Dark past of a criminal mastermind'

Monday 20 January 2014

I have a confession to make. I was once a masterforger and I was never caught or even suspected of committing such a heinous crime.

Every time I read about a forgery case I feel a twinge of unassuaged guilt but at the same time a flicker of admiration for the skill involved in really high-class examples of such an ancient criminal art-form.

This week brothers Amrit and Piero Karra went down hard on charges of forgery. They and their West Midlands printing firm had broken bad: they had state-of-the-art equipment and access to specialist paper, inks and metal foils.

So they succumbed to temptation and flooded the market with millions of pounds worth of bent tenners which looked so much like the real thing that currency experts had to do a triple-take with microscopes and laser beams to spot the difference.

Of course the Karras richly deserved the seven years inside the judge gave them – they could have undermined the whole UK currency if things had gone undetected.

One of Nazi Germany’s cunning plans to lay us low was to flood the country with fake fivers. Like all big forgery scams it was discovered and destroyed. They always are. Except mine.

In 1968 I was a grubby-necked grammar school boy at Coopers Company School in London’s East End. Discipline was harsh; even on the wettest, coldest, or windiest days we were forced outside during the dinner-break to huddle miserably on the featureless tarmac playground.

The fresh air would do us good, our pitiless masters informed us from the comfort and warmth of their cosy staff room.

But there was one blessed tribe of boys who were spared the elements. The Coopers Company School Train Spotters Club....

Read Richard's full Daily Express column here and keep up to date with all Richard and Judy's Daily Express columns here.
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