Counterfeiting money is crazy enough, but creating your own form of currency and trying to pay your bills with it seems like downright insanity. Yet, that's exactly what dozens of members of the militia movement are doing, according to a leading civil rights group.
These paramilitary groups, whose adherents believe the government doesn't have any power over them, are waging a war of "paper terrorism" by creating their own form of currency and using it to pay everything from debts to their taxes, the Southern Poverty Law Center in Birmingham, Ala. says.
In St. Louis, bankers have received phony documents called "bond promissory notes" or "private offset" notes as payment for car loans, mortgages and credit card debt, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As the paper points out, such actions defy common sense. After all, the notes are completely worthless and, not surprisingly, these payments were not honored by the banks.
"A man from O'Fallon, Ill., tried it 60 or 70 times before making a big mistake - filing a bond promissory note in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to pay someone else's $14,100 federal tax lien," the newspaper said,
Even more brazen people have tried to pass these types of documents to the Internal Revenue Service.
The Resurgence of the Militia Movement
Militia groups have seen a resurgence in popularity since Barack Obama was elected president, says Heidi Beirich, director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center. "It's like they came out of nowhere with the election of Obama." she says.
Her group has found 50 new militias in 18 months. "We added a group yesterday with 60 new chapters."
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the movement's backers believe paper money to be invalid and believe that the creation of new forms of "money" is justified. In the 1980s these groups created phony money certificates, then moved on to phony money orders and liens.
"Convicted drug dealer and prisoner Kenneth E. Speight, for instance, filed more than $12 billion in liens against federal judges and prosecutors in Connecticut.," the Anti-Defamation League says. "According to federal officials, a fellow prisoner associated with the Montana Freemen taught Speight how to harass people with liens. "
The tactics, though, seem to have evolved. As the St. Louis Dispatch discovered, there are even promoters out there who teach people how to carry out the scams. The fee for such services? Roughly $100, according to web sites that the newspaper examined. But prospective clients should note: most of these promoters will only accept cold, hard U.S.-denominated cash.
Militia groups creating their own currency -- again