Of course, not all of this stuff comes from wayward soldiers breaking into secure storage areas or rummaging through top-secret dumpsters. Actually, a huge chunk of this crap comes from a failed, $750 million program called RCOS/Keyhole, which hoped to develop tools to help soldiers detect bombs, but instead did nothing but help budding entrepreneurs start a super-shady side business. The assumption is that, since this program flopped so hard, nobody gave enough of a shit to properly guard the gear, making grand theft from the military both easy and inviting.
So the next time you want to sell a $15,000 night vision scope, consider who's making the bid. It might be a civilian, or it might be Uncle Sam, who wants his shit back and your ass as interest.
Anti-Counterfeiting Expert Steals $1.7 Million (In Real Cash)
In 1989, the United States Treasury tapped printing engineer Robert Schmitt Jr. for their "Threaded Currency Paper Project," in which new threads would be sewn into $100 bills to make them harder to counterfeit. But since the bills weren't woven out of neutron stars, they remained just as easy to steal.
And it took until only 1994 for Schmitt to finally realize, "Nobody ever suspects the butler!" He twice gained access to a special vault, where he waltzed out with 17,000 crisp, freshly threaded $100 bills. When a man barely scrapes by on $67,000 per year in 1990s money, he gets desperate.
United States Government
"$1.7 million stolen is $1.7 million earned."
Such an egregious theft didn't take long to unravel, because while Schmitt certainly was brazen, he wasn't very clever. He had deposited roughly $300,000 in various bank accounts using a method called "smurfing," where a money launderer deposits funds just below $10,000 to avoid triggering an automatic investigation (painting oneself blue and trolling a crazy old man and his fuck-ugly cat are optional). He also used $685,000 to purchase four houses, including a waterfront estate for $400,000, because that's not suspicious. People making $67,000 a year buy four expensive homes all the time.
Natalia Bratslavsky/iStock/Getty Images
"Just cut back on Domino's for a month and any of you could do the same."
But it's always the one detail you neglect that comes back to fuck you in the ass -- in Schmitt's case, he didn't realize that banks deal with tons of smurfing, so they typically investigate and report deposits slightly under $10,000, just in case. That's why, in 1995, the IRS rudely invited themselves over for dinner at his place. In lieu of dessert, they confiscated the $650,000 he still had tucked away in his car, which makes him history's laziest smurfer, aside from whoever wrote the second movie.
With the jig completely up, Schmitt surrendered and took responsibility for everything. And by that, we mean he blamed drugs. According to Schmitt's lawyer, he was on Prozac, and a bad drug reaction had prompted him to live like a Robin Leach outtake.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
Side effects include headaches, nausea, federal grand larceny, and constipation.
The judge obviously knew this was bullshit, and locked him up for just over two years. He got lucky, though -- Schmitt could've gotten 20 years, plus a $600,000 fine, and we're guessing none of that sweet, sweet car money would've counted.
Jason would like everybody reading this to give him a quarter. He promises to reward you with selfies of him partying it up while wearing his brand-new night vision goggles. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and discuss payment there.
Be sure to check out 5 Shockingly Crazy Judges Who Presided Over Modern Courts and 5 Certifiably Insane Politicians People Still Voted For.
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