Posted by Allison on 6 April 2009, 15:19
There is no doubt that world currencies have changed remarkably over the centuries. They started out as rudimentary objects that served as money, and then evolved into coins made from precious metals such as gold and silver.
When coins were made from such valuable metals it was no wonder that certain people tried everything they could to steal them to increase their own personal wealth. No matter how much different currencies have changed, one thing has remained constant throughout time – and that is the crimes that have been associated with different types of money.
Back in the early days of currency, when coins made of gold and silver were first being made, the exact size and shape of each coin tended to differ from the precise measurements and sizes we are familiar with today. The Romans in particular made good use of this particular fact if they were a little less than honest. Before using each coin they took some of the gold or silver off the edge and kept it. You can obviously see that over the course of time anyone doing this forbidden act would end up with a nice stash of precious metals without having to do anything else to get it.
Although the coins which are in common circulation today are not made of gold or silver anymore, it is this ancient activity that we have to thank for the patterns that appear around the edges of our coins. These are different in every country, but the idea stems from that ancient activity of shaving, and also makes it that bit harder to make good looking fakes of the real coins.
There are certainly plenty of stories that abound about pirates and their valuable coins, which were regularly stolen by their enemies. Who knows how many treasure chests filled with gold coins from centuries gone by lay at the bottom of the world's oceans?
But some of the more well known tales involving people who steal money and different types of currency from other people have occurred in modern times. One of the most famous crimes in Britain was that of the Great Train Robbery in 1963. £2.6 million pounds is a significant sum even today, but over forty years ago it was a huge amount, and the truth is that most of that sum is still unaccounted for. The chances are very slim now that we will ever find out exactly what happened to it.
On the other side of the Atlantic, some thirteen years earlier, the world discovered what became known as the Brinks robbery. This netted nearly $3 million dollars and hit the headlines all over the world.
It's clear that wherever money and man are put together – or within striking distance of each other – those who are easily tempted will take advantage and take all they can. But perhaps the most obvious form of crime involving currency that we all come into contact with (sometimes more often than you may realise) is that which involves fake currencies. If you have ever looked twice at the condition of a high value coin you have been given in your change at some point, and later found in your pocket, you will know you have probably unintentionally handled a fake coin.
There are plenty of measures in place to help combat this particular crime, and in fact a rather modern effort to combat it has recently got underway in India. A computer game is now being used to help staff recognise fake banknotes before they accept them from customers. Just as the techniques used to make fraudulent banknotes and coins become more sophisticated, so do the efforts to combat them, it seems.
But when it comes to stealing it is not a modern event. You can trace this particular crime right back through history. Whenever a major battle took place the victors would take their spoils and keep them for themselves. You couldn't even begin to count the number of times that the winners of wars and battles celebrated by stealing the money and other items held by the losers. Many famous battles throughout history resulted in just such an event occurring.
Of course in modern times there is another form of crime involving money which makes good use (or bad use, in real terms) of the internet and of the email system we all use on a daily basis. Most of us have received an email (or several) at one time or another, purporting to be from an official or other person of importance in another country, asking us for our help in getting some money out of the country in some way. They apparently don't need anything but some contact details from us in order to be able to send us a huge sum of some currency or another, but anyone who falls for this will find they are then asked to send some money… Of course those who have done so won't receive a penny, a cent or any other form of currency either.
Crimes involving currency may have changed somewhat since the early days of very basic (but very valuable) coins, but people are still finding ways to steal it with every single day that goes by. We may not plunder other countries and steal their money in quite the same way as we used to in times of ancient battle, but there are still plenty of people out there who try and get hold of it using as many different methods as they can.
One thing hasn't changed though. The battles that took place in ancient times have become rather famous now, and we like to read about the times of Julius Caesar and his fellow Romans, and the epic battles they were involved in. In just the same way we also find it exciting to read about the vast amounts of currency that are robbed from banks and other institutions in today's world.
It seems crimes involving currency will always be famous.