Making money out of thin air


OPCA litigants have employed a number of what may be called “money for nothing” schemes that purport to provide a mechanism by which the OPCA litigant can obtain unconventional benefits. These are the proverbial caves of hidden treasure. OPCA gurus who advance these concepts claim that, with the correct combination of documents, one can open a secret path to vast riches. One needs only know the spell!

The most common “money for nothing” schemes are: “Redemption”, “Accepted for Value” (A4V), “Bills of Exchange” and “Promissory Notes“, and these are closely linked to “Securitization” via UCC, and the “Book-entry Credits” concept in the US Credit River decisions.

Guru promoters claim that each person is associated with a secret government bank account which contains millions of dollars. The bank account’s number is usually related  to some identification number assigned to a person by the state, such as a Social Security Number, a Social Insurance Number, or a birth certificate number. The specific details of that relationship also vary between schemes.

Proponents claim that the government maintain these bank accounts to monetize the state after it abandoned the gold standard. Put another way, the theory is that people are property of the state that it uses to secure its currency. This is often expressed as some form of “slavery”. The exact form of a scheme and associated “unlocking spell” varies from guru to guru, but there are common motifs that indicate an OPCA litigant is attempting to use these processes:

  • A reference to the UCC, or any UCC filing documents;
  • The language “accept for value” and “return for value”;
  • A claim that a government bank account exists that is linked to a personal identification number;
  • Mention of the gold or precious metal standards for money, and the dates those standards were abandoned;
  • A claim by a litigant that they are not a slave; this relates to the idea that the state uses people as collateral;
  • A reference to a Cestui Que Vie Account or a Cestui Que Vie Trust. (Most of the theory behind the alleged existence of this account, is a follow-on from the abstract speculations drawn from the Cestui Que Vie Act 1666.)

They sometimes claim that the Court should make an order to discharge obligations by payment from the secret government account. When an litigant writes or stamps a notation, according to the mythology, it transforms a bill or court order into a cheque drawn from the secret account. The OPCA litigant’s obligation is gone once the modified document is returned to its source.

The Courts have also seen this concept expressed as a mechanism to negate criminal charges or an arrest warrant. For example: “..perform the offset, adjust and close the account and provide the original blue ink WARRANT FOR ARREST to us…”

These concepts originated in the United States namely by such gurus as Winston Shrout but Australian, Canadian (Mary Croft) and other versions have since emerged, which are basically distorted views of the Bills of Exchange Acts.

In Ireland, this scheme was rejected in Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Ltd -v- Peacock [2015] IEHC 86 

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It was also addressed in Freeman & anor -v- Bank of Scotland (Ireland) Limited & ors [2013] IEHC 371: ‘The ‘creation of currency’ (at 29)

“At para. 10 of the statement of claim, the plaintiffs allege that the “first named defendants misled and deceived the plaintiffs by offering what the plaintiffs understood to be a ‘loan of money’, when in fact the first named defendants did not ‘lend’ the funds, they instead created the funds with the Plaintiff’s signatures on a loan application”. In support of this argument the plaintiffs seek to rely on the affidavit of a Mr. Walker F. Todd which discusses what he calls “a common misconception about the nature of money” and states – “In a fractional reserve banking system like the United States banking system, most of the funds advanced to borrowers (assets of the banks) are created by the banks themselves and are not merely transferred from one set of depositors to another set of borrowers.”

The Court accepts the submission by counsel for the defendants that this ‘creation of currency’ argument resembles the so-called ‘money for nothing schemes’ discussed in Meads v. Meads 2012 ABQB 571. Such arguments are coming before the Courts in numerous jurisdictions with increasing frequency since the economic and property market collapse. In Meads, Associate Chief Justice Rooke stated that such arguments are often advanced by a particular type of vexatious litigant which he termed ‘Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (OPCA) litigants’. He described these arguments as ‘fanciful’ and ‘completely devoid of merit’ and said they are often made by distressed litigants, particularly those who find themselves in financial difficulty, acting under pressure and on the instruction of organised groups or individuals who have a vested interest in disrupting court operations and frustrating the legal rights of governments, corporations and individuals.”

In Canada, the numerous cases where these schemes have been rejected is in part E of Meads v. Meads 2012 ABQB 571 (CanLII).

In Bank of New Zealand v Debra Donaldson [2016] NZHC 1225 the appellant argued that the Bank was validly paid with the “promissory notes”; and did not heed the conditions appearing on the covering letters and therefore agreed to accept the “promissory notes” as satisfaction of the debt, and it had created an estoppel by acquiescence preventing it from now seeking payment of the debt.

“Ms Donaldson accepted at the hearing that there is no evidence before the Court that “Private Prepaid Treasury Account #18237199 c/o Minister of Finance, Hon. Bill English” exists. She suggested that the New Zealand government would in this case pay the Bank, but when I asked her why the New Zealand government would do that she was unable to offer any clear answer. For the same reason that Ms Donaldson could not provide a satisfactory answer to that question, a creditor receiving documents such as the “promissory notes” in this case would not consider that it had received the equivalent of cash. Ms Donaldson could not point to any document or oral agreement by which the Bank actively agreed to accept payment by promissory note.”

The main scheme in Australia and other Commonwealth nations is the “promissory note“, that has been submitted in many cases, notably in an attempt to discharge debts to banks.

Although their basis of theory is the Bills of Exchange Act, it is, however, apparent that the documents do not even slightly resemble genuine bills of exchange. Furthermore, signing for the registered mail that contained the documents does not amount to an “acceptance” of any legitimate bill of exchange that might be in the envelope. “Acceptance” in the Bills of Exchange Act is a technical term, and is not the same as acknowledging physical receipt of the envelope.

To ensure this “acceptance” proponents are informed to use registered mail, and hold that a “contract” has been created by “tacit agreement” due to the recipient’s failure to respond or “rebut” the contents of served documents. This is technically a foisted contract that has no legal effect

In various cases proponents have described the “promissory note” theory. They have stated that the banks do not have money. Rather, they create money out of “thin air”, a concept referred to as “Book-entry Credits“. They often ask, “where did that money come from”, and answer “it came from us”, stating, “it is not like the old days, when people used to go to the bank and, in the back room, count out dollars. There is no law that allows the banks to create dollars out of thin air. The banks also charge interest on nothing and that is a criminal rate of interest because interest is charged on nothing.”

They further explain that it is you that “creates” this value when you apply for a loan, receive funding from the government, and other sources. “You are the only one who can make “money” and guarantee its payment by your authorization, your signature. The government in its fiduciary position arranges or “guarantees” it, and the payment is processed through your trust or tax account. It’s basically a running tab. No other party can sign for it only you.” This assertion leads the proponent to believe they can create their own “money” themselves, through the issue of a promissory note.

Mike Palmer from “Know Your Rights Group” tried unsuccessfully to explain this concept in Permanent Custodians Ltd v Virgin Investments Pty Ltd [2009] VSC 429 citing two obscure US decisions First National Bank of Montgomery v Daly and Jerome Daly v Savage State Bank & Anor (the Credit River decisions) along with a booklet called “Modern Money Mechanics” describing the U.S. banking system. 

The creation of money is solely within the legislative powers of the Federal Parliament in the constitution, under section 51(xiii) banking, and the issue of paper money, and (xvi) bills of exchange and promissory notes. In Australia, banknotes issued by the Reserve Bank of Australia, and coin up to certain amounts have the status of “legal tender”. (See section 36 Reserve Bank Act 1959, and section 16 Currency Act 1965


A promissory note made by an individual does not have “legal tender” status. A Freedom of Information Request from the Bank of England regarding the definition of “legal tender” in reference to promissory notes:

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Promissory notes have a legitimate purpose, there is no reason in principle why a debtor cannot create a promissory note payable to a specific institution (a creditor) for a specific amount due from the debtor to the creditor. However, that does not mean that the creditor is obliged to accept the note in undertaking of the debt, since the method of payment is a matter of agreement between the parties to the transaction. In other words, unless the creditor has agreed to accept the note in lieu of payment of the debt, it would not be required to do so.

A legitimate promissory note is defined in section 89 of the Bills of Exchange Act 1909

(1) A promissory note is an unconditional promise in writing made by one person to  another, signed by the maker, engaging to pay, on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money, to or to the order of a specified person, or to bearer.
(2) An instrument in the form of a note payable to maker’s order is not a note within the meaning of this section unless and until it is indorsed by the maker.
(3) A note is not invalid by reason only that it contains also a pledge of collateral security with authority to sell or dispose thereof.
(4) A note which is, or on the face of it purports to be, both made and payable within Australasia is an inland note. Any other note is a foreign note. 

To break down the many obvious errors in the OPCA theories regarding promissory notes, firstly, as in subsection (1), a promissory note is not legal tender, it is a “promise to pay”. It doesn’t “pay” the debt, the debt must still be paid at the agreed time.

Secondly, the note is unconditional, and not subject to conditions by the issuer, as also in subsection (1) which usually accompanies the OPCA documents.

Thirdly, a promissory note isn’t valid unless it is *also* backed by collateral, so the pledged collateral can be sold or disposed of in default, as in subsection (3).

It is very unfortunate that any person would be so gullible as to believe that free money can be obtained by these theatrics, but nevertheless some appear unable to resist the temptation of wealth without obligation. One can only hope that in the future OPCA gurus will find these schemes less attractive, and their risk-loving customers instead invest in alternative forms of speculation, such as lottery tickets, which provide infinitely better prospects for return.

Woods v Australian Taxation Office & Ors [2016] QDC 198

“In the present case, an attempt was made to distinguish the procedure from that in Atkinson and Walsh by resort to promissory notes rather than the stratagem of a bill of exchange. However, I do not accept that the delivery of the notes was a valid exercise. The notes sent to the third defendant were not truly promissory notes within the meaning of the Act. A promissory note is defined in s 89(1) of the Act as an unconditional promise in writing made by one person to another, signed by a maker, engaging to pay, on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money, to or to the order of a specified person, or to the bearer. …the notes were not unconditional promises in writing to pay on demand nor were they to pay at a determinable future time.” 

This decision was appealed in Woods v Australian Taxation Office [2017] QCA 28

“In my view, no arguable error, or misapplication, of law on the part of the learned primary judge with regard to that finding is identified in the applicant’s written submissions. Moreover, his Honour’s finding is consistent with decisions of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia in Atkinson & Anor v Commissioner of Taxation and Wilmink v Westpac Banking Corporation with respect to comparable documentation. As these decisions illustrate, the notion that, upon delivery of the documents to the ATO, there arose a legally binding contract or contracts between the applicant and any of the defendants containing the terms and conditions alleged, is without any legal merit. It is truly fanciful.”

In Atkinson v Commissioner of Taxation [2014] FCA 1217 the applicant sought a declaration that $112,500.00 in outstanding income tax had been paid by a bill of exchange. 

“None of the propositions make sense. The statement of account is not a bill of exchange as defined in s 8(1) of the Act. The first applicant was not authorised to do anything with the statement of account under the Act. Writing and putting various stamps on the statement of account had no legal effect under the Act. Nor did delivering that statement of account back to the ATO. The Act is simply not engaged at all by the facts of this case. The notion that a person who owes the ATO money for non-payment of tax can transform the ATO’s statement of account into a bill of exchange and then deliver the statement of account back to the ATO and, in so doing, discharge the person’s own indebtedness for some nominal amount ($1) and render the ATO liable to pay the original amount owed to the ATO plus interest and other charges is some form of fantasy, unconnected to the operation of the Act.”

In Wilmink (Trustee) v Westpac Banking Corporation, [2014] FCA 872 the appellant explained that he had paid the $325,000 owing by way of a “bill of exchange” and alleged default by Westpac, seeking damages in the amount of $1,3000,000, plus interest and costs. The court dismissed the application, and the decision was appealed numerous times,. Read more in the article Wilmink.

As held in ACM Group Ltd v Jenner [2014] QMC 7:

“The A4V notice and the “certified agreement” are unilateral “quasi-agreements” unsupported by valuable consideration. Neither is binding on the involuntary party. The documents do not create formal legal relations or contractual consequences with or for anyone. In fact despite its misuse of Latin maxims and bizarre make believe legal babble the A4V notice is not worth the paper it’s written.

The plaintiff claims that Ms Wales is an emerging breed of vicarious vexatious litigants known in Canada as organised pseudo legal commercial argument litigants (OPCA Litigants) characterised and distinguished by the use of muddled legal concepts and terms calculated to frustrate the legitimate legal rights of others and disrupt court proceedings (See Meads v Meads [2012] ABQB 571) OPCA litigants, according to Rooke ACJ, belongs to a group unified by specific but irrelevant formalities and language they appear to believe to be (or portray as) legally significant and “…will only honour (agreements and legal obligations) if they feel like it. And typically they don’t” (Meads at [4]).

According to A4V mythology OPCA adherents are associated with the secret government bank account with millions of dollars in it which can be unlocked and accessed by special stamps and notations that convert the original document into a bill of exchange drawn on the secret government account in favour of a nominated payee. The A4V document here closely resembles those used by OPCA Litigants in Canada in “money for nothing schemes” discussed in Meads at [199] – [244]. As Counsel for the plaintiff points out the defence and counter claim here also bear a striking similarity to the OPCA modus operandi generally and, in particular, to the uses of unilateral agreements (eg A4V notice) and the fiction of quadruple counter claims (see Meads 473, 531, 483). A similar situation arose in Boughan v HSBC Bank Australia Ltd [2009] FCA 1007 where a litigant asserted an implied agreement that the account was “settled and closed” [23-29] because a bank officer did not sign and return  a document within a specified time.

Graham J held: “It is apparent that the applicant’s case against the bank well and truly earns the description of being unmeritorious and unsustainable. The applicant has no recall or prospect of successfully prosecuting any part of his proceeding against the bank. In relation to his claim for summary 5 judgment against the bank it is totally without foundation, it proceeds on the premise that, because the bank did not reply to his rather odd communication to it, by its silence the bank agreed to make a gift to the applicant of $666,000. The A4V concept was also reviewed and rejected in Underworld Services Ltd v Money Inc [2012] ABQC 327. When a filed defence is irregular or deficient in some way judges should, nonetheless, do their best to ensure that poorly expressed or unstructured pleadings of unrepresented litigants are not peremptorily struck out when they may raise genuine triable issues and with proper amendment or permissible assistance from the court could be put in to proper form (Coronis v Jilt Pty Ltd (2013) 1 Qd R 104 at 107 per McMurdo P ). Accordingly, the defendant will be given the opportunity to re-plead free from interference by the unmeritorious arguments presently being advanced.” 

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A One Peoples Public Trust adherent, NZ woman Kirri Campbell, being arrested for fraud after attempting to deposit fake bills of exchange. StuffNZ: “Alleged fraudster remanded“:


In ACM Group Limited v McClymont [2014] FCCA 2581 the appellant argued that Westpac should account to him for the amount it received for the debt from the petitioning creditor because it was Mr McClymont’s signature on the credit contract that created the asset that Westpac sold or assigned to the petitioning creditor. Having created the asset by his signature via “Book-entry credits“, it was his asset and Westpac was not entitled to sell it.

As held in Living Word Outreach Inc v Deputy Sheriff of Victoria [2014] VSC 454:

“Mr Field asserted in addition that there existed a commercial lien between the appellant and the VGSO. Mr Field submitted that the appellant had ‘issued’ commercial liens against the VGSO containing claims that the VGSO failed to rebut and so must be held to have accepted. As submitted on behalf of the respondents, there is no basis for the assertion of a commercial lien. A lien is the personal right to withhold to property as security for the performance of an obligation or payment of a debt. The appellant has not established any obligation or debt on the part of the VGSO, with the result that there can be no lien.” 

In Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd v Evans; Evans v Esanda Finance Corporation Ltd [2016] NSWSC 1742 the court thought it appropriate to strike out or summarily dismiss the pleadings regarding promissory notes.

“It is illogical and incorrect as a matter of legal principle to take the statement that a promissory note “is to be treated as cash” out of the context in which it appeared, and apply it, as Mr Evans seeks to do here, in circumstances where Mr Evans creates a promissory note, which is not drawn on any reputable or substantial financial institution, and which is not a recognised form of payment under the loan documentation, and then proffers it entirely voluntarily in circumstances where the ANZ is required to attend at a remote rural village, at a specific time, in order to collect payment. Mr Evans’ assertion that, in those circumstances, he is excused from repaying his substantial liability to ANZ is, simply put, a nonsense. .. Here there is no doubt that ANZ received the promissory notes and did not return them within the specified three days. Silence or inaction on the part of a party cannot, where no consideration passes, transform a unilateral demand into a contract. Even less can it constitute a breach of some self-invented contract by Mr Evans. .. The entirety of the Statement of Claim in the Evans proceedings is based on an irrational and legally untenable premise. The irrational premise is that a person or party can unilaterally impose a contract upon one or more other parties by producing a five page written document, full of gibberish and legal nonsense, sending it to the other party or parties and then asserting that when the recipients ignore the document, they fall to be bound by its terms.”

The U.S. Treasury published a warning to inform the public of these scams, titled “Birth Certificate Bonds


As noted by the U.S. Treasury, it is a variation of the older Bogus Sight Drafts/Bills of Exchange Drawn on the Treasury scam created by the Posse Comitatus

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There are many more such cases, which you can locate on this website under the Tags:

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