Description and Effects of Counterfeit Money

Counterfeit money is currency that is produced without the legal sanction of the state or government and it is a deliberate violation of that country’s laws. Counterfeiting is almost as old as money itself. The main objective of counterfeiting is obvious.

If you could do it without getting caught, you would be able to print your own money and buy whatever you want with it. Counterfeiting is the ultimate technology for people who want to get something for nothing. Anybody can steal — it doesn’t take much thought.Counterfeiting, on the other hand, requires panache and finesse.

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Pilfering goods and services from an unwitting vendor by printing and using fake currency is as much an art as it is a crime; the fraternity of counterfeiters is one that’s populated by criminals with more than the average amount of derring-do. In fact, the history of counterfeiting is filled with tales of close calls, jailbreaks, Nazi plots, spectacular fraud and, of course, money. In the not-too-distant past, counterfeiting was a difficult and expensive endeavor.It required large printing presses and the ability to cut intricate designs by hand into metal plates.

Today, it’s much easier to create counterfeit bills. As thousands of teenagers discover every year, if you’re willing to break the law, you can create fake money with a PC, a scanner and a color inkjet printer in about 10 minutes. Of course you can see that it looks all wrong when you put your new counterfeit bill under a microscope. Through this method many fine details are completely lost, giving us the opportunity to detect those small flaws that will prove the fraud.

As the counterfeit bills get used in vending machines and rejected, or as they make their way into banks, where human tellers can feel the difference, or when they get into the hands of an attentive convenience store worker who rejects them, or when they make their way back to the scanning machines at the U. S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, they are detected. The Secret Service offers the below methods to detect counterfeit bills:

  • Holograph of the face image: Hold a bill up to a light and look for a holograph of the ace image on the bill. Both images should match. If the $100 bill has been bleached, the hologram will display an image of Abraham Lincoln, who appears on the $5 bills, instead of Benjamin Franklin.
  • Color-shifting ink: If you hold the new series bill (except the $5 note) and tilt it back and forth, please observe the numeral in the lower right hand corner as its color shifts from green to black and back.
  • Watermark: Hold the bill up to a light to view the watermark in an unprinted space to the right of the portrait. The watermark can be seen from both sides of the bill since it is not printed on the bill but is imbedded in the paper.
  • Security Thread: Hold the bill under a source of light to view the security thread. You will see a thin imbedded strip running from top to bottom on the face of a banknote. In the $10 and $50 the security strip is located to the right of the portrait, and in the $5, $20 and $100, it is located just to the left of the portrait.
  • Comparison: Compare the feel and texture of the paper with other bills you know are authentic.
  • Ultraviolet Glow: If the bill is held up to an ultraviolet light, the $5 bill glows blue; the $10 bill glows orange, the $20 bill glows green, the $50 bill glows yellow, and the $100 bill glows red – if they are authentic!
  • Microprinting: There are minute microprinting on the security threads: the $5 bill has “USA FIVE” written on the thread; the $10 bill has “USA TEN” written on the thread; the $20 bill has “USA TWENTY” written on the thread; the $50 bill has “USA 50” written on the thread; and the $100 bill has the words “USA 100” written on the security thread. Microprinting can be found around the portrait as well as on the security threads.
  • Fine Line Printing Patterns: Very fine lines have been added behind the portrait and on the reverse side scene to make it harder to reproduce.

Counterfeiting is not a minor offense. It is not like running a red light, or even shoplifting. These crimes are misdemeanors handled at the local level by local police and courts. Counterfeiting, on the other hand, is a federal felony handled by the U. S. Secret Service. In fact, the entire reason the Secret Service was originally created was to handle counterfeiters. The reason why counterfeiting is treated as such a serious crime is because money is so important to our society.

Money is the oxygen of the economy. If people cannot trust that the money they carry is authentic, then it gets much harder to buy things and the economy slows down. These are some negative consequences of counterfeiting money.  Reduction in the value of real money Increase in prices ( inflation ) due to more money getting circulated in the economy – an unauthorized artificial increase in the money supply.

Decrease in the acceptability (satisfactoriness) of money – payees may demand electronic transfers of real money or payment in another currency (or even payment in a precious metal such as gold)  Companies are not reimbursed for counterfeits. This forces them to increase prices of commodities When you get caught counterfeiting – and if you are counterfeiting you will get caught eventually – the punishment can be unbelievably harsh. Under federal statute 18 USC section 471, if you’re found guilty of making copies “in the likeness and similitude of US currency unless they are much larger or much smaller than US currency” (a minimum of 50 percent larger or 25 percent smaller) or unless they are “rendered in black and white,” you face up to 15 years in the slammer. ” In other words, you can’t get something for nothing, at least not if you are trying to do it by counterfeiting. Although it is easy to print your own money, it never works when you try spending it.

  1. The Economics of Money, Banking and Financial Markets, Frederic S. Mishkin,PearsonWeb Sites :

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Description and Effects of Counterfeit Money. (2016, Dec 07). Retrieved from