Counterfeiting & Forgery


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To help you detect counterfeit currency and guard against forgery loss. Click here to see a comprehensive  Secret Service website entitled "Know Your Money"  

Counterfeiting of Money, Bank Cards and Other Financial Instruments

International criminal enterprises are increasingly using fictitious securities and negotiable instruments to defraud the government, individuals, corporations and financial institutions.

Advanced design, copying and publishing technology is enhancing the capability to produce high-quality counterfeit currency and financial instruments such as commercial checks, traveler's checks and money orders.

A new generation of fraudulent alteration or counterfeiting emerged when computerized color laser copiers became capable of high-resolution copying, the modification of documents and even the creation of false documents without benefit of an original. They can easily produce documents whose quality is indistinguishable from that of authentic documents except by an expert.

Criminals have used these bogus instruments to obtain government benefits, underwrite loans, serve as insurance collateral, and defraud individual investors, pension funds and retirement accounts.

Funny Money

Because of vigorous anti-counterfeiting measures, the amount of counterfeit currency has dropped precipitously, with passed and seized counterfeit $100 bills falling from $126 million to $53 million between 1994 and 1997.

Also, the percentage of counterfeit U.S. currency passed in the United States, that was produced using inkjet color copiers, has jumped from 0.5% in 1995 to 43% in 1998. During the same period, the value of Canadian counterfeit bank notes passed and seized in Canada was $5.2 million. This was double that of the previous year, and primarily due to a large counterfeit operation producing $100's. A major investigation resulting in twelve arrests slowed the activity of this particular series of counterfeit banknotes.

In fiscal 2001, about 39 percent of the $47.5 million in seized counterfeit money that entered circulation in the United States was made using computers or scanners, said Jim Mackin, a Secret Service spokesman compared to less than 1 percent in 1995.

In 1996, approximately 65% of all counterfeit U.S. currency detected domestically was produced outside its borders.

The Federal Reserve System estimates that approximately $450 billion of U.S. currency circulates worldwide and that two-thirds of that currency circulates outside the country. As the demand for genuine U.S. currency grows overseas, so will the threat of counterfeiting by foreign organized crime groups.

Partial segments courtesy of  Crimes of Persuasion: Schemes, scams, frauds.

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