The Lone-Wolf Counterfeiter: Czeslaw Bojarski

Posted on 3/20/2012

One of the most successful counterfeiters of the 20th century was Czeslaw Bojarski and he preferred to work alone.

We have many prefabricated images in our heads of counterfeit operations; massive mafia printing operations in some dingy cellar in the city, massive rogue government operations, or even an evil corporation. These images, generated mainly by Hollywood, make for some great entertainment but are usually far from the truth in depicting successful counterfeiting operations.

One of the most successful and famous counterfeiters of the 20th century was Czeslaw Bojarski. Not in association with any organized crime, Bojarski successfully printed hundreds of millions in French currency for over 14 years in the 1950s-60s. The reason for his success? Yes, his notes were impeccable, but the fact that he ran the operation from the basement of his home, alone, in the suburbs of Paris was the key to his success. For fear of detection he made everything on his own, the paper, the plates, printing presses and the ink. Bojarski, being incredibly gifted, created notes that were of higher quality than those produced by the Banque de France.

Bojarski’s most famous counterfeit note was the 100 Nouveaux Francs Bonaparte.

Counterfeit 100 Nouveaux Francs Bonaparte note, front
Image Credit: Joseph E. Boling
Click image to enlarge.

Bojarski handcrafted this note like the finest French cheese and wine, nearly impossible to differentiate from the legitimate bank issue. The only difference between the two was probably intentional on Bojarski’s behalf; a slight alteration of a flower petal in the upper corner. That’s it. Almost impossible to see with the naked eye, and unless one was searching for it, this difference was totally invisible.

Close up of the flower petal in the
counterfeit 100 Nouveaux Francs Bonaparte note
Image Credit: Joseph E. Boling
Click image to enlarge.

No counterfeiting operation to date has been able produce the same quality counterfeits that Bojarski had. He acted alone, that’s why he was able to avoid being detected. I do not doubt that the French police and the Banque de France were disappointed when they opened up his basement and found a rather low-key and low-budget operation. I’m sure that they were expecting to uncover a high-powered crime ring.

His downfall? Czeslaw decided that he needed two more people to sell counterfeit tickets as he produced them, as he could not do both at once. Shortly after he enlisted their services they turned him in to the authorities. He was arrested and sentenced to 20 years and served 13. Upon his arrest Bojarski was plastered all over the French media; and strangely enough the French people took a special pride in him as an artist.

Today Bojarski is still viewed as the ultimate resource for counterfeit special investigators around the world. His counterfeits are worth considerably more to collectors than the bank issued notes and they make a beautiful conversation piece in any collection.

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