“This is the United States government. It’s got all the guns, all the surveillance, all the tanks, it has nuclear weapons, and it’s worried about some ex-surfer guy making his own money? Give me a break!”
Bernard von NotHaus was clearly outraged when he was found guilty of counterfeiting charges for minting and then distributing his own form of private money outside the government’s bounds.
Von NotHaus is the creator of the Liberty
Dollar, a private currency that was issued in minted metal coins made of gold and silver.
He was once referred to as the “Rosa Parks” of the constitutional currency movement, but now he is being accused of “domestic terrorism” by the federal government after getting over $60 million of his precious metal-backed currency into circulation throughout the country.
When he was in his 30s, Von NotHaus knew nothing about economics, yet he had what he considered to be an epiphany. A self-proclaimed gold enthusiast, von NotHaus had began to buy and sell gold. “We were all sitting around thinking, ‘Wow, we ought to do something with this gold.’ And I said: ‘Yeah, we could make coins. People love coins. We could have our own money!'”.
He went on to found the Royal Hawaiian Mint – a company that produced collectible coins. In 1998, von NotHaus began to introduce the world to his fledgling currency – The Liberty Dollar. He started small by driving around with hopes of convincing small, local businesses to start to use his coins.
However, in order to make sure that the money was only being used by those who wanted to use it, a toll free number and URL were included on the currency so people could request to receive actual money in return if they wanted.
A problem arose in 2004, when a credit union caught a client trying to pass a fake coin/some of von NotHaus’s currency as actual money. An investigation led to von NotHaus and in 2006, the United States Mint alerted him that his currency making the rounds was in fact considered a federal crime. After disregarding the letter, von NotHaus was eventually arrested.
The argument against him during his federal trial was that the money he produced was much too similar to actual American currency. He was found guilty by the jury and is currently awaiting sentencing while working on his book about the gold standard.