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TBT: Secret Service Dictionary and Fun Facts

Just as any career has its own jargon, so did the counterfeiting world and the Secret Service. Below are a few of the most important terms to know.  Below that are a few fun facts about the Secret Service.

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Secret Service and Counterfeiting Dictionary

  • Boodle – notes bought from a production firmBoodle carrier – a courier who delivered counterfeit notes from the dealer to the shovers.

    Chief Operative – first-class men assigned to the division’s major districts, each chief operative would have assistant operatives working under his direction, and would be responsible for all administrative and investigative activities within his district.

    Dealers – people who bought the counterfeit notes from wholesalers and then used shovers to distribute the money into general circulation

    Distribution – the spread of counterfeit money through an underground sales network

    Engraver – the person who created the plates used to print money

    Firm – the collective group of people used to print money

    Issue – an edition of a set of counterfeit bills

    Manufacturer – a person or group of people who printed counterfeit money

    Network – the sum of one’s personal acquaintances (which included non-criminals).

    Notes – another term for paper money

    Operative – the official title of the Service’s employees

    Plant – a term used to reference where counterfeiters made their money

    Plates – metal pieces with copied images from the bill being counterfeited

    Product – another name used for counterfeit money, generally used by the counterfeiters

    Production Firm – the collective group of people used to print money

    Queer – another term for counterfeit money

    Retailer – another term for a dealer

    Shover – a person who bought low priced items with a higher counterfeit bill to get real money back in change

    Straw bail – a situation in which a false bondsman was contracted to swear they possessed sufficient property to pay the bond, and then the counterfeiter would subsequently fail to appear in court

    Wholesalers – men or women who would buy counterfeit notes from manufacturers and then recruit potential customers through personal contacts or the mail to create a sales network

     

     

  • Fun Facts about the Secret Service

    • D.C. was the Service’s bureaucratic headquarters and the chief lived there
    • Between 1875 and 1910, the division never employed more than 47 men, and the average was only 25. 1878-1893, the average number of servicemen was well below that.
    • Chief operatives often had several cases under investigation at once and had silhouette-407659_640testy battles with headquarters over conflicting demands for economy and results
    • Each chief operative maintained a retinue of assistants and informers
    • Each district contained a number of states and a single operative maintained a headquarter in a major city
    • There were field offices in 11 cities across the nation.
    • Operatives were paid once a month on a daily scale, an average of $7 per day.
    • Each work day ranged from 12 to 16 hours long.
    • There were no days off and any “vacation” time was unpaid.
    • Operatives were required to itemize all their expenses for everything from travel to personal needs.
    • Operatives were to maintain peak physical fitness, swear unquestioning obedience to chief’s directives
    • In 1881, all toy money was removed from shelves and industries.
    • While time-consuming, the work was not particularly dangerous (no Service employee was seriously hurt in the line of duty until the murder of an operative in 1908).

     

TBT: Secret Service Operatives – the Early Days

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The Secret Service history dates back to the Civil War when they were informally created to detect, investigate, and arrest counterfeiters. The early days were fraught with detectives who had less than ethical standards and tactics that disregarded the rights of a citizen. In less than ten years after its establishment, a reformation was demanded and a whole new breed of Secret Service Operative came into existence.

Who was this new breed of operative?

Operatives tended to have military, police, or detective experience and come from a law-abiding middle-class background. These men were successful in life prior to being appointed and often had a job history that indicated an ambition to do more.

 

Unlike their predecessors, they adapted their behavior to bureaucratic routine, followed orders, and obeyed rules. They were talented detectives, highly tolerant of paperwork, and committed to organizational goals.

 

They were a  tough, capable, and honorable breed, with high standards of personal integrity, who felt it their duty to interact with criminals for the greater good of society.

 

“Employees will be judged by the character they sustain, by the results they accomplish, and by the manner in which they accomplish them.” – Elmer Washburn, Chief of the Secret Service 1874-1876

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Operative in the 1880s

  • Avoid “any appearance of impropriety or disgraceful behavior.”
  • Criminals are not personal acquaintances; they are enemies of the social order.
  • Submit weekly reports to the director. They must include accounts of your actions and expenses every hour of every day.
  • Do not accept gifts or gratuities to perform or forgo official duties.
  • Do not deliver or give permission to use counterfeit money to any unauthorized person.
  • All arrests must be in strict conformity to civil law and with the cooperation of the local policing institution.
  • All financial transactions must be reported, even those with criminals.
  • Report all criminal transactions: what was paid for counterfeit money, from whom it was purchased, where they deal was made, the kind of bogus money purchased, and how much counterfeit was obtained.SecretServiceBadge1
  • Record “all charges for information and assistance,” including names and residences of each person receiving these sums.
  • Purchasing counterfeit money must be done for the smallest, practical amount.
  • “Authority must be had from this Office before any bargain is made for information or assistance, unless the operative can clearly make it appear that the interest of the service would have suffered materially by the delay necessary, in order to obtain such authority.”
  • “Operatives will neither promise, either by word or implication, immunity from punishment, nor anything in mitigation of sentence, to any person for any offense he may have committed.”
  • Suspects must be warned about their rights – everything they said will be documented and used against them in court. Suspects needn’t answer any questions until a lawyer is obtained. (This was long before the Miranda Rights became required in 1966.)

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