Stalking the Cooper River for thousands of fake nickels

Photo: Francis L. Henning photographed after counterfeiting thousands of nickels. Photo Courtesy of the Secret Service. Source


July 17, 2012|By Jason Nark and Daily News Staff Writer

HE WAS an enigma to the authorities and a curiosity to collectors, a man who could have made bundles with his brains.

But not all of Francis L. Henning’s plans were foolproof or legal, and he fled South Jersey in 1955 with the feds on his tail, dumping buckets full of shiny evidence in local waterways. On Oct. 28 that year, Henning, looking both distinguished and defeated in a light suit, stood for a mug shot in Cleveland, where he was making $700 a month as a mechanical engineer — more than twice the national average for the era.

Henning was a counterfeiter who strategically dreamed small, it seems, to fly under the radar of the agency he figured would be looking for fakes: the Secret Service. Henning made hundreds of thousands of fake nickels in a machine shop in rural Erial, Camden County, all by himself, using a 250,000-pound press and sheets of cupronickel that cost him thousands of dollars. Then he’d launder the money for real bills at local banks, posing as a vending-machine operator, the Associated Press reported after his arrest. . . . Read Complete Report

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