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Interview with Edward Sanderfer

Sanderfer, Edward
Fehl, Kristen
Date of Interview: 
Relationships between people and places; Then and now
Edward Sanderfer talks about growing up in Georgia and his encounters with counterfeiting through work.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kristen Fehl interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
KF (Kristen Fehl): OK. What's your name?
ES (Edward Sanderfer): Ed Sanderfer.
KF: And how old are you?
ES: Fifty-three.
KF: Uh, did you go to college?
ES: Yep.
KF: Educational background? Where'd you go?
ES: American University, in Washington, D.C.
KF: OK and what was your occupation?
ES: Uh, my occupation, has been, uh, uh, law enforcement.
KF: You worked for the Secret Service?
ES: Yeah.
KF: What brought you to that?
ES: Um, well, I was going to, I was going to work in law enforcement anyway after college 'cause I majored in Criminal Justice, and I was going do it anyway and uh, then I just took various tests for various, uh, agencies, and, uh, and then just chose after I passed the tests.
KF: If you're anything like my friend, Jim, who works for the Secret Service, he couldn't, he couldn't ever talk about anything. He'll just disappear and he'll be out of town for a week and I'll say, "Jim, where have you been?" And he can't tell you.
ES: Oh, wow. It's not that bad. If we tell you, we'd have to kill you.[Laughter]
KF: Did you get to travel a lot?
ES: A lot, an awful lot.
KF: Who did you meet?
ES: Oh, well it, uh, various, uh, various presidents, various kings, various prime ministers, um, other heads of state.
KF: Who was your favorite president that you know?
ES: Reagan.
KF: Reagan? Is he nice?
ES: Yeah.
KF: OK. Where were you born?
ES: Columbus, Mississippi.
KF: Then where did you go?
ES: Uh, Central, Georgia, um, Gray, Georgia. That's where I was raised.
KF: Raised there?
ES: Raised there. Born in Columbus, Mississippi, and raised in Georgia.
KF: What are your parents' backgrounds?
ES: Uh, they were both born in Columbus, Mississippi. They were both raised in Columbus, Mississippi.
KF: Any brothers and sisters?
ES: Yeah, uh, one brother and two sisters. The little brother lives in Atlanta and one sister lives in Macon, and one sister lives in Gray, Georgia.
KF: Uh, what are your plans for the holiday, Christmas holiday?
ES: Well, uh, just be with family. Hopefully be with family and hopefully all my family will be here during the holidays.
KF: Are most of them still down in Gray?
ES: Of my family?
KF: Yeah.
ES: My children?
KF: Well, just your family in general.
ES: Oh.
KF: Are a lot of them still down there?
ES: Oh, just my brother and sisters live down that way, but as far as, uh, my, my family's concerned, uh, I think everybody will be here Christmas.
KF: Your son?
ES: My son, he'll be up from, uh, from Savannah, Georgia. And he should be up for Christmas time.
RECORDING PAUSED THEN RESUMED ES: In central Georgia, Pineywoods, [chuckles] we didn't do vacations. We didn't do that kind of thing. I mean, nobody had any money. I mean, we didn't have any money, but neither did other kids have any money. It was just, it was, uh, it was just, we were still in the, we were still in the, uh, [pause] uh, uh, trying to think of the word, the, the, uh, Depression. I mean, the Depression in the 30s, the south was still in a Depression in the 50s. And, and, so basically everybody was poor. And, uh, so we didn't, we didn't, just didn't do things like vacations and stuff like that.
KF: What did your dad do?
ES: He was a truck driver.
KF: Truck driver?
ES: Yeah.
KF: He was away a lot?
ES: [Laughs] Yeah.
KF: Did you, um, were you in Vietnam?
ES: No.
KF: You weren't ( ).
ES: But I can't think of a story. I mean. I, I, I'm sure there's stories, but I can't think of one that, that I can tell you. Uh, uh, but trying to think of a, of a, uh, I, um, a particular story, I can't.
KF: Tell me about golf. When did you pick that up?
ES: Uh, when I was a, a teenager. It just happened that even though, again, where I grew up was basically a small town, Central, Georgia, in that town there was a golf course two miles from the town of Gray. And it's unusual because there wasn't another golf course for 25 to 30 miles, I don't know. And so, all of us boys went down there, there was a lake there and we went down and caddied and played golf as we grew up and swam in the lake. And I was lifeguard at the lake. That was another thing that we did, those kind of things. And, uh, but what, what's unusual is that's, that was a rich person's sport but it just so happened there was a nine-hole golf course close to where I grew up. I mean within two miles and, uh, well actually all the kids ( ) learned how to play golf. Learned how to play golf, which only kids from country clubs knew how to play golf, so I learned how to play golf.
KF: Have you been playing a lot now that you're retired?
ES: Yup.
KF: Getting any good?
ES: Nope. [Laughter]
KF: That's the way it goes. [Laughter]
ES: Yeah. [Laugh]
KF: That sounds like my score. Where do you play at?
ES: Emerald Lake. That's, uh, out Lawyer's Road, about four miles out of Mint Hill, East Old Lawyer's Road.
KF: Did you work in the counterfeit office here?
ES: Uh, counterfeit? No. Uh, I worked in counterfeit, uh [pause] during my career. I mean, if I had a, if I was in that squad, for instance with. I've been in various squads, but we'd work counterfeit cases, we'd work forgery cases, we'd work intelligence cases, we'd work various types of cases so, you know, counterfeit would be just one of them.
KF: So the office here isn't primarily counterfeit anymore?
ES: It never was.
ES: Never was. I mean, that's one of the things that we do here. That's not everything we do here.
ES: That's just one of the many things that we do here. See, you may spend some time, you go from squad to squad, you're always changing squads.
KF: Do a lot of people actually attempt counterfeiting?
ES: Yep, many do. And uh, used to, when I first hired on, counterfeiting was more a, of a, um, art and, and a printer, a printer was somebody who can set the type, do the printing, uh, make the, make the negatives, uh, set the press up. That was, that was kind of an art. It was, it was a printer, printer's art. Now with the modern equipment, you could become a counterfeiter tomorrow, because of the, the modern, uh, uh, color copiers they have. It would make, it would make counterfeit, it would make it, not good, but good enough to pass in a dimly lit, lit store or location.
KF: What about, uh, the things that they have?
ES: Well, they have security pieces on it now, which can't be duplicated, uh, and which has helped in the counterfeiting. And I, I, I've been out of, I've been out of that, uh, business for a long time, but, but I'm, sure it has helped in the, in the, it was, it was designed to help in the, deterring counterfeiting. Uh, and today's printer, I mean, that, that's, it like mass producing everything. Now you just mass produce and do counterfeiting. You mass produce. Where it used to, it was an art to set up a counterfeiting operation. You had to have a printer, a skillful printer, to start with. Now kids do it in, in high school, get their hands on a printer. They do it.
KF: Do they scan for those at the Federal Reserve?
ES: Do they what?
KF: Do they scan for counterfeit bills at the Federal Reserve? Is that how you usually catch them, the counterfeit bills?
ES: No. It's usually caught, um, there again, I'm going to have to go back to what, to what I was familiar with, the um, people who handle money are, are, and a lot of money daily, are good at detecting any alteration in the bill.
KF: Like tellers and?
ES: Yeah, tellers or people that work in convenience stores and which convenience stores take a lot of counterfeiting. Malls during Christmas time I remember, used to get hit, especially up and down 85 or up and down any interstate highway where you can get off, get off, hit a mall, get on back on, boom. And you're gone. But, and you go down to the next mall and do it again, drop some more counterfeit money. Uh, but, uh, there again, volume, uh, you get a lot of people coming in and Christmas time and do a lot of shopping and it's easier to pass. However, there is no future in counterfeiting, in using counterfeiting or passing counterfeited money. We do catch them.
KF: How?
ES: We do catch them. If, uh, well, eventually somebody will get a tag number, somebody will get a description, we catch somebody on a, or surveillance camera and then, then we start putting two and two together and, and then we start getting a suspect and the next thing you know, work all the way back to the printing press and we would do it. It's just no, it's just no money in it, in counterfeiting at all. And yet, people try every year, they try it. But there's just no money in it. I mean, there's just no money in writing bad checks or forging checks then there is, you know, in making money. There's just no money in counterfeiting. And first off, if you buy, you're going to buy about 10 cents on the dollar. You, you'll pay 100 dollars worth of counterfeiter to get him the supply and you may pay 10 dollars worth ( ) and right off the bat, you're not paying much in part and you're not going to make anything out of it. You're not going to make much more than 10, than, than what you put into it. And then you're going to get caught. You're eventually going to get, that's another thing, greed. Greed is the, nobody does a little bit and just stops and waits until next Christmas. Greed sets in and if you say, "Wow, hey, if I pass that twenty, if I pass that hundred, let's do it again, and again," and the next thing you know, greed has caught up with you.