Thursday, January 12, 2006 High-quality counterfeit U.S. $100 bills, most likely printed in North Korea, were discovered in Las Vegas casinos in recent months, a South Korean news agency has reported, citing U.S. Secret Service officials. The report comes amid escalating tension between the United States and North Korea over the counterfeit currency. There have been "sporadic activities" in which the "supernotes," were discovered in Las Vegas casinos, said Gregory Marchio an official in the Secret Service's Las Vegas field office, according to a Yonhap news service dispatch from Washington. "No more than two or three notes a month" have been discovered since six months ago, Marchio said. It has been only in the last six months that these fake dollars were spotted at casinos and entertainment venues of the city, he said. The fake bill's characteristics were similar to those traced to North Korea. "I don't know if they came directly from North Korea or they've been in circulation in the United States. But the characteristics are similar to those that ... are being manufactured in North Korea," he said. Yonhap also reported that a U.S. Secret Service delegation will travel to Seoul later this month to discuss North Korea's counterfeiting issues with South Korean officials. U.S. officials said North Korea is believed to have begun making counterfeit U.S. dollars in 1989, and the total amount of fake bills circulated by the North so far is estimated at $50 million. The Seoul-based Korea Exchange Bank also said last month that the number of counterfeit U.S. dollars uncovered in South Korea increased last year. The bank said it had found 842 bogus U.S. bills totaling $83,790 during the first 11 months of the year, up from $26,150 in all of last year. Most of the counterfeit currency was in fake $100 bills. On Monday, North Korea officially denied that it has been counterfeiting U.S. bills and vowed to stay away from multilateral nuclear talks unless U.S. financial sanctions against it are lifted.