Buried Treasuries

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Pat Roque/AP.

U.S. Secret Service agent David Popp contrasts genuine dollar bills against the fakes.

In the mountainous jungles of Mindanao, primitive tribesmen stumble upon the wreckage of an American B-17 bomber from World War II. In the twisted fuselage they discover several strongboxes with U.S. government markings. The stacks of printed sheets inside are worthless to the hunter-gatherer tribesmen but not to the city slicker who happens to pass by a few days later—he acquires them in exchange for a few trinkets. At this point in the tale, the narrator reaches into a rusty, banged-up box and pulls out a sheaf of the papers, seemingly yellowed by age: Treasury bonds, worth trillions of dollars. Now...