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Counterfeit money

Counterfeit money

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Encyclopedia
Counterfeit money is currency that is produced without the legal sanction of the state or government to resemble some official form of currency closely enough that it may be confused for genuine currency. Producing or using counterfeit money is a form of fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

 or forgery
Forgery
Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations. Forging money or...

.
Counterfeiting is probably as old as money itself. Before the introduction of paper money, the most prevalent method of counterfeiting involved mixing base metals with pure gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 or silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

. A form of counterfeiting is the production of documents by legitimate printers in response to fraudulent instructions. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Nazis forged British pounds and American dollars. Today some of the finest counterfeit banknotes are called Superdollar
Superdollar
A superdollar or superbill is a very high quality counterfeit United States one hundred-dollar bill, alleged by the U.S. Government to have been made by an unknown organization or government. Various groups have been suspected of creating such notes, and international opinion on the origin of the...

s
because of their high quality, and likeness to the real US dollar. There has been a considerable amount of counterfeiting of Euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 banknotes and coins since the launch of the currency in 2002.

Some of the ill-effects that counterfeit money has on society are: a reduction in the value of real money; and increase in prices (inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

) due to more money getting circulated in the economy - an unauthorized artificial increase in the money supply
Money supply
In economics, the money supply or money stock, is the total amount of money available in an economy at a specific time. There are several ways to define "money," but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits .Money supply data are recorded and published, usually...

; a decrease in the acceptability of paper money; and losses, when traders are not reimbursed for counterfeit money detected by banks, even if it is confiscated.

Traditionally, anti-counterfeiting measures involved including fine detail with raised intaglio
Intaglio (printmaking)
Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate, and the incised line or area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or...

 printing on bills which allows non-experts to easily spot forgeries. On coins, milled or reeded (marked with parallel grooves) edges are used to show that none of the valuable metal has been scraped off.

History


Counterfeiting is as old as money itself. Coinage of money began in the Greek city of Lydia around 600 B.C. Before the introduction of paper money, the most prevalent method of counterfeiting involved mixing base metals with pure gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 or silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

. A common practice was to "shave" the edges of a coin. This was known as "clipping
Coin clipping
Coin debasement is the act of decreasing the amount of precious metal in a coin, while continuing to circulate it at face value. This was frequently done by governments in order to inflate the amount of currency in circulation; typically, some of the precious metal was replaced by a cheaper metal...

." While not itself counterfeiting, the exponents were able to use these precious metal shavings to create counterfeits. A fourrée
Fourrée
A fourrée is a coin, most often a counterfeit, that is made from a base metal core that has been plated with a precious metal to look like its solid metal counter part. The term is normally applied to ancient silver plated coins such as the Roman denarius and Greek drachma, but the term is also...

 is an ancient type of counterfeit coin, in which a base metal core has been plated with a precious metal to resemble its solid metal counterpart. Rulers often dealt very harshly with the perpetrators of such deeds. In 1162, Emperor Gaozong of Song
Emperor Gaozong of Song
Emperor Gaozong , born Zhao Gou, was the tenth emperor of the Song Dynasty of China, and the first emperor of the Southern Song. He reigned from 1127 to 1162. He fled south after the Jurchens overran Kaifeng in the Jingkang Incident, hence the beginning of the Southern Song dynasty 1127–1279...

 had promulgated a decree to punish the counterfeiter of Huizi
Huizi (currency)
The Huizi , issued in the year 1160, was the official banknote of the Chinese Southern Song Dynasty. It has the highest amount of issuance among various banknote types during the Song Dynasty.-See also:* Economy of Song Dynasty...

 to death and to reward the informant. The English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 couple Thomas and Anne Rogers were convicted on 15 October 1690 for "Clipping 40 pieces of Silver." Thomas Rogers was hanged, drawn and quartered
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III and his successor, Edward I...

 while Anne Rogers was burnt alive. Evidence supplied by an informant led to the arrest of the last of the English Coiners "King" David Hartley, who was executed by hanging in 1770. The extreme forms of punishment were meted out for acts of treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 against state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 or Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

, rather than simple crime.

Both in the United States, and England, counterfeiting was once punishable by death. Paper currency printed by Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 often bore the phrase "to counterfeit is death." The theory behind such harsh punishments was that one who had the skills to counterfeit currency was considered a threat to the safety of the State, and had to be eliminated. Another explanation is the fact that issuing money that people could trust was both an economic imperative, as well as a (where applicable) Royal prerogative; therefore counterfeiting was a crime against the state or ruler itself, rather than against the person who received the fake money. Far more fortunate was an earlier practitioner of the same art, active in the time of the Emperor Justinian. Rather than executing Alexander the Barber, the Emperor chose to employ his talents in the government's own service.

Modern counterfeiting begins with paper money. Nations have used counterfeiting as a means of warfare. The idea is to overflow the enemy's economy with fake bank notes, so that the real value of the money plummets. Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 did this during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 to reduce the value of the Continental Dollar. The counterfeiters for the British were known as "shovers," presumably for the ability to "shove" the fake currency into circulation. Two of the most well-known shovers for the British during the Revolutionary War were David Farnsworth and John Blair. They were caught with 10,000 dollars in counterfeits when arrested. George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 took a personal interest in their case and called for them to be tortured to discover further information. They were eventually hung for their crimes. Although this tactic was also employed by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the fake Confederate currency it produced was of superior quality to the real thing.

Instances



A form of counterfeiting is the production of documents by legitimate printers in response to fraudulent instructions. An example of this is the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis of 1925, when the British banknote printers Waterlow and Sons
Waterlow and Sons
The Waterlow and Sons Limited was a major worldwide engraver of currency, postage stamps, stocks and bond certificates established in 1897, in England.-Portuguese Bank Note Crisis:...

 produced Banco de Portugal
Banco de Portugal
The Banco de Portugal is the central bank of the Republic of Portugal. Established by a royal charter of 19 November 1846 to act as a commercial bank and issuing bank, it came about as the result of a merger of the Banco de Lisboa and the Companhia de Confiança Nacional, an investment company...

 notes equivalent in value to 0.88% of the Portuguese nominal Gross Domestic Product, with identical serial numbers to existing banknotes, in response to a fraud perpetrated by Alves dos Reis
Alves dos Reis
Artur Virgílio Alves Reis was a Portuguese criminal who perpetrated one of the largest frauds in history, against Banco de Portugal in 1925, often called the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis.- Early life :...

. Similarly, in 1929 the issue of postage stamps celebrating the Millennium of Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

's parliament, the Althing
Althing
The Alþingi, anglicised variously as Althing or Althingi, is the national parliament of Iceland. The Althingi is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world still extant...

, was compromised by the insertion of "1" on the print order, before the authorised value of stamps to be produced (see Postage stamps and postal history of Iceland
Postage stamps and postal history of Iceland
This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Iceland. Regular mail service in Iceland was first established by a charter of 13 May 1776, and on 1 January 1873, Iceland issued its first postage stamps...

.)

In 1926 a high-profile counterfeit scandal came to light in Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, when several people were arrested in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 while attempting to procure 10 million francs worth of fake French 1000-franc bills which had been produced in Hungary; after 3 years, the state-sponsored industrial scale counterfeit operation had finally collapsed. The League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

' investigation found Hungary's motives were to avenge its post-WWI territorial losses
Treaty of Trianon
The Treaty of Trianon was the peace agreement signed in 1920, at the end of World War I, between the Allies of World War I and Hungary . The treaty greatly redefined and reduced Hungary's borders. From its borders before World War I, it lost 72% of its territory, which was reduced from to...

 (blamed on Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

) and to use profits from the counterfeiting business to boost a militarist, border-revisionist ideology. Germany and Austria had an active role in the conspiracy, which required special machinery. The quality of fake bills was still substandard however, owing to France's use of exotic raw paper material imported from its colonies.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Nazis attempted to implement a similar plan (Operation Bernhard
Operation Bernhard
Operation Bernhard was the codename of a secret Nazi plan devised during the Second World War by the RSHA and the SS to destabilise the British economy by flooding the country with forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes...

) against the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

. The Nazis took Jewish artists in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

 and forced them to forge British pounds and American dollars. The quality of the counterfeiting was very good, and it was almost impossible to distinguish between the real and fake bills. The Germans could not put their plan into action, and were forced to dump the counterfeit bills into a lake. Most of the bills were not recovered until the 1950s.

Today the some of the finest counterfeit banknotes are called Superdollar
Superdollar
A superdollar or superbill is a very high quality counterfeit United States one hundred-dollar bill, alleged by the U.S. Government to have been made by an unknown organization or government. Various groups have been suspected of creating such notes, and international opinion on the origin of the...

s
because of their high quality, and likeness to the real US dollar. The source of the supernotes is disputed, with North Korea being vocally accused by US authorities. Recently, on May 23, 2007, the Swiss government has raised some doubt as to the ability of North Korea to produce the "Superdollars". Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 are also significant sources of counterfeit currency. The amount of counterfeit United States currency
Counterfeit United States currency
Counterfeiting of the currency of the United States is widely attempted. According to the United States Department of Treasury, an estimated 70 million counterfeit dollars are believed to be in circulation, or approximately $1 in counterfeits for every $12,500 in genuine currency.-Historical...

 is estimated to be less than $3 per $10,000, with less than $3 per $100,000 difficult to detect.

There has been a rapid growth in the counterfeiting of Euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 banknotes and coins since the launch of the currency in 2002. In 2003, 551,287 fake euro notes and 26,191 bogus euro coins were removed from EU circulation. In 2004, French police seized fake 10 euro and 20 euro notes worth a total of around €1.8 million from two laboratories and estimated that 145,000 notes had already entered circulation.

In the early years of the 21st century, the United States Secret Service
United States Secret Service
The United States Secret Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency that is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The sworn members are divided among the Special Agents and the Uniformed Division. Until March 1, 2003, the Service was part of the United States...

 has noted a substantial reduction in the quantity of forged U.S. currency, as counterfeiters turn their attention towards the Euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

.

Effect on society


Some of the ill-effects that counterfeit money has on society are:
  1. Reduction in the value of real money
  2. Increase in prices (inflation
    Inflation
    In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

    ) due to more money getting circulated in the economy - an unauthorized artificial increase in the money supply
    Money supply
    In economics, the money supply or money stock, is the total amount of money available in an economy at a specific time. There are several ways to define "money," but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits .Money supply data are recorded and published, usually...

  3. 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)
  4. Companies are not reimbursed for counterfeits. This forces them to increase prices of commodities


At the same time, in countries where paper money is a small fraction of the total money in circulation, the macroeconomic effects of counterfeiting of currency may not be significant. The microeconomic effects, such as confidence in currency, however, may be large.

Anti-counterfeiting measures



Traditionally, anti-counterfeiting measures involved including fine detail with raised intaglio
Intaglio (printmaking)
Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate, and the incised line or area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or...

 printing on bills which would allow non-experts to easily spot forgeries. On coins, milled or reeded (marked with parallel grooves) edges are used to show that none of the valuable metal has been scraped off. This detects the shaving or clipping
Coin clipping
Coin debasement is the act of decreasing the amount of precious metal in a coin, while continuing to circulate it at face value. This was frequently done by governments in order to inflate the amount of currency in circulation; typically, some of the precious metal was replaced by a cheaper metal...

(paring off) of the rim of the coin. However, it does not detect sweating, or shaking coins in a bag and collecting the resulting dust. Since this technique removes a smaller amount, it is primarily used on the most valuable coins, such as gold. In early paper money in Colonial North America, one creative means of deterring counterfeiters was to print the impression of a leaf
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 in the bill. Since the patterns found in a leaf were unique and complex, they were nearly impossible to reproduce.

In the late twentieth century advances in computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 and photocopy technology made it possible for people without sophisticated training to copy currency easily. In response, national engraving bureaus began to include new more sophisticated anti-counterfeiting systems such as holograms, multi-colored bills, embedded devices such as strips, microprinting and inks whose colors changed depending on the angle of the light, and the use of design features such as the "EURion constellation
EURion constellation
The EURion constellation is a pattern of symbols found on a number of banknote designs worldwide since about 1996. It is added to help software detect the presence of a banknote in a digital image. Such software can then block the user from reproducing banknotes to prevent counterfeiting using...

" which disables modern photocopiers. Software programs such as Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editing program developed and published by Adobe Systems Incorporated.Adobe's 2003 "Creative Suite" rebranding led to Adobe Photoshop 8's renaming to Adobe Photoshop CS. Thus, Adobe Photoshop CS5 is the 12th major release of Adobe Photoshop...

 have been modified by their manufacturers to obstruct manipulation of scanned images of banknotes. There also exist patches to counteract these measures.

For U.S. currency
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

, anti-counterfeiting milestones are as follows:
  • 1996 $100 bill
    United States one hundred-dollar bill
    The United States one hundred-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin is currently featured on the obverse of the bill. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall. The time on the clock according to the...

     gets a new design with a larger portrait
  • 1997 $50 bill
    United States fifty-dollar bill
    The United States fifty-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. Ulysses S. Grant is currently featured on the obverse, while the U.S. Capitol is featured on the reverse. All current-issue $50 bills are Federal Reserve Notes....

     gets a new design with a larger portrait
  • 1998 $20 bill
    United States twenty-dollar bill
    The United States twenty-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. President Andrew Jackson is currently featured on the front side of the bill, which is why the twenty-dollar bill is often called a "Jackson," while the White House is featured on the reverse side.The...

     gets a new design with a larger portrait
  • 2000 $10 bill
    United States ten-dollar bill
    The United States ten-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. The first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, is currently featured on the obverse of the bill, while the U.S. Treasury is featured on the reverse. The United States ten-dollar bill ($10) is a...

     and $5 bill
    United States five-dollar bill
    The United States five-dollar bill or fiver is a denomination of United States currency. The $5 bill currently features U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes...

     get a new design with a larger portrait
  • 2003 $20 bill
    United States twenty-dollar bill
    The United States twenty-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. President Andrew Jackson is currently featured on the front side of the bill, which is why the twenty-dollar bill is often called a "Jackson," while the White House is featured on the reverse side.The...

     gets a new design with no oval around Andrew Jackson
    Andrew Jackson
    Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

    's portrait and more colors
  • 2004 $50 bill
    United States fifty-dollar bill
    The United States fifty-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. Ulysses S. Grant is currently featured on the obverse, while the U.S. Capitol is featured on the reverse. All current-issue $50 bills are Federal Reserve Notes....

     gets a new design with no oval around Ulysses S. Grant
    Ulysses S. Grant
    Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

    's portrait and more colors
  • 2006 $10 bill
    United States ten-dollar bill
    The United States ten-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. The first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, is currently featured on the obverse of the bill, while the U.S. Treasury is featured on the reverse. The United States ten-dollar bill ($10) is a...

     gets a new design with no oval around Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

    's portrait and more colors
  • 2008 $5 bill
    United States five-dollar bill
    The United States five-dollar bill or fiver is a denomination of United States currency. The $5 bill currently features U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes...

     gets a new design with no oval around Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

    's portrait and more colors
  • 2010 $100 bill
    United States one hundred-dollar bill
    The United States one hundred-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin is currently featured on the obverse of the bill. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall. The time on the clock according to the...

     gets a new design with no oval around Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

    's portrait and more colors


The redesigned $100 bill was unveiled on April 21, 2010, and the Federal Reserve Board was to begin issuing the new bill on February 10, 2011, but the release has been delayed indefinitely as a result of printing defects.

The Treasury had made no plans to redesign the $5 bill
United States five-dollar bill
The United States five-dollar bill or fiver is a denomination of United States currency. The $5 bill currently features U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes...

 using colors, but recently reversed its decision, after learning some counterfeiters were bleaching the ink off the bills and printing them as $100 bills. The new $10 bill
United States ten-dollar bill
The United States ten-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. The first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, is currently featured on the obverse of the bill, while the U.S. Treasury is featured on the reverse. The United States ten-dollar bill ($10) is a...

 (the design of which was revealed in late 2005) entered circulation on March 2, 2006. The $1 bill
United States one-dollar bill
The United States one-dollar bill is the most common denomination of US currency. The first president, George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart, is currently featured on the obverse, while the Great Seal of the United States is featured on the reverse. The one-dollar bill has the oldest...

 and $2 bill
United States two-dollar bill
The United States two-dollar bill is a current denomination of US currency. President Thomas Jefferson is featured on the obverse of the note...

 are seen by most counterfeiters as having too low a value to counterfeit, and so they have not been redesigned as frequently as higher denominations.

In the 1980s counterfeiting in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 twice resulted in sudden changes in official documents: in November 1984 the £1 postage stamp, also used on savings cards for paying television licences and telephone bills, was invalidated and replaced by another design at a few days' notice, because of widespread counterfeiting. Later, the £20 Central Bank of Ireland Series B banknote was rapidly replaced because of what the Finance Minister described as "the involuntary privatisation of banknote printing".

In the 1990s, the portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 was placed on the banknotes of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 to combat counterfeiting, as he was recognised better than the generic designs on the renminbi
Renminbi
The Renminbi is the official currency of the People's Republic of China . Renminbi is legal tender in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong or Macau. It is issued by the People's Bank of China, the monetary authority of the PRC...

 notes.

In 1988 The Reserve Bank of Australia released the world's first long lasting and counterfeit-resistant polymer (plastic) banknotes with a special Bicentennial $10 note
Banknotes of the Australian dollar
The banknotes of the Australian dollar were first issued on 14 February 1966, when Australia adopted decimal currency.- Former series :The $5 note was not issued until 1967...

 issue. After problems with this bill were discovered and addressed, in 1992 a problem-free $5 note was issued. In 1996 Australia became the first country to have a full series of circulating polymer banknotes.
On 3 May 1999 the New Zealand Reserve Bank started circulating polymer banknotes printed by Note Printing Australia
Note Printing Australia
Note Printing Australia , which is located in Craigieburn, Melbourne, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia and was corporatised in July 1998. NPA has its origins as a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank and was established in 1913 to print banknotes for Australia...

 Limited. The technology developed is now used in 26 countries. Note Printing Australia is currently printing polymer notes for 18 countries.

The Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 has a reserve series of notes for the Swiss Franc
Swiss franc
The franc is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein; it is also legal tender in the Italian exclave Campione d'Italia. Although not formally legal tender in the German exclave Büsingen , it is in wide daily use there...

 bill, in case widespread counterfeiting were to take place.

List of notable counterfeiters


  • Peter Alston
    Peter Alston
    Peter Alston was the late 18th Century and early 19th Century counterfeiter and river pirate, who is believed to be Little Harpe's associate and partner in the murder of notorious outlaw leader Samuel Mason in 1803. He was the son of the colonial-era counterfeiter Philip Alston associated with...

    ,
  • Philip Alston
    Philip Alston (counterfeiter)
    Philip Alston was an 18th century counterfeiter both before and after the American Revolution in Virginia and the Carolinas before the war, and later in Kentucky and Illinois afterwards...

    ,
  • Anatasios Arnaouti
    Anatasios Arnaouti
    Anatasios Arnaouti is a criminal from Manchester, England who led one of the most ambitious ever forgery operations before being jailed in 2005....

    , a British counterfeiter of more than £2.5 million in fake money, sentenced in 2005.
  • Eson Bigsby,
  • Abel Buell
    Abel Buell
    Abel Buell , born in Killingworth, Connecticut, was a goldsmith, silversmith, jewelry designer, engraver, surveyor, type manufacturer, mint master, textile miller, and counterfeiter in the American colonies...

    , American colonialist
    Colonial America
    The colonial history of the United States covers the history from the start of European settlement and especially the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain until they declared independence in 1776. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major...

     and republican
    Republicanism in the United States
    Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

     who went from altering five-pound note engraving plates to publishing the first map of the new United States created by an American.
  • Mary Butterworth
    Mary Butterworth
    Mary Peck Butterworth was a counterfeiter in colonial America.Born to Joseph and Elizabeth Peck in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, she married John Butterworth, son of a British captain in 1710. Mary Butterworth allegedly started her counterfeiting operation around 1716...

    , a counterfeiter in colonial America
    Colonial America
    The colonial history of the United States covers the history from the start of European settlement and especially the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain until they declared independence in 1776. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major...

    .
  • William Chaloner
    William Chaloner
    William Chaloner was a serial offender counterfeit coiner and confidence trickster, who was imprisoned in Newgate Prison several times and eventually proven guilty of High Treason by Sir Isaac Newton, Master of the Royal Mint...

    , a British counterfeiter convicted by Sir Isaac Newton and hanged on 16 March 1699.
  • Mike DeBardeleben
    Mike DeBardeleben
    James Mitchell "Mike" DeBardeleben was a convicted rapist and counterfeiter who became known as the "mall passer" due to his practice of passing counterfeit bills in shopping malls across the country. After his arrest for counterfeiting, he was found to have committed much more serious sex crimes...

    , was sent to prison
    Prison
    A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

     for counterfeiting the $20 bill
    United States twenty-dollar bill
    The United States twenty-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. President Andrew Jackson is currently featured on the front side of the bill, which is why the twenty-dollar bill is often called a "Jackson," while the White House is featured on the reverse side.The...

  • Alves dos Reis
    Alves dos Reis
    Artur Virgílio Alves Reis was a Portuguese criminal who perpetrated one of the largest frauds in history, against Banco de Portugal in 1925, often called the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis.- Early life :...

    , who by the end of 1925 had managed to introduce escudo banknotes worth £1,007,963 at 1925 exchange rates into the Portuguese
    Portugal
    Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

     economy, which was equivalent to 0.88% of Portugal’s nominal GDP at the time.
  • John Duff
    John Duff (counterfeiter)
    John Duff was a counterfeiter, hunter, and scout who assisted in George Rogers Clark's campaign to capture the Illinois country for the American side during the Revolutionary War. He had been leading a group of hunters returning from Kaskaskia, Illinois, when intercepted by Clark's soldiers near...

    ,
  • Eric "Klipping" V
    Eric V of Denmark
    Eric V "Klipping" was King of Denmark and son of Christopher I. Until 1264 he ruled under the auspices of his mother, the competent Queen Dowager Margaret Sambiria. Between 1261 and 1262, Eric was a prisoner in Holstein following a military defeat...

    , the king of Denmark
    Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

     (1259–1286). The king’s nickname refers to ”clipping” of the coin.
  • David Farnsworth
    David Farnsworth
    David Farnsworth was a Colonial Era counterfeiter. His crimes during the American Revolutionary War caught the personal attention of George Washington and he was eventually hanged for his involvement in a plot to destroy the young American economy by placing counterfeit money into circulation. The...

    . a counterfeiter in colonial America
    Colonial America
    The colonial history of the United States covers the history from the start of European settlement and especially the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain until they declared independence in 1776. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major...

    . He was hung for his crimes after George Washington
    George Washington
    George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

     had taken a personal interest in his case.
  • "King" David Hartley, was the leader of the Cragg Vale Coiners of rural 18th century England. Producing fake gold coins, he was eventually captured and hanged at Tyburn near York on April 28, 1770 and buried in the village of Heptonstall, W Yorks. His brother, Isaac, escaped the authorities and lived until 1815.
  • Stephen Jory - Great Britain's most renowned counterfeiter started his career by selling cheap perfume in designer bottles. He later established his own illegal printing operation to produce and distribute an estimated five billion pounds in counterfeit currency throughout the United Kingdom.
  • Edward Mueller - Documented in Mister 880
    Mister 880
    Mister 880 is a 1950 film directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Burt Lancaster, Dorothy McGuire, Edmund Gwenn, and Millard Mitchell. It was based on an article by St. Clair McKelway that was first published in The New Yorker and later collected in McKelway's book True Tales from the Annals of...

    , he was possibly the longest uncaught counterfeiter in history. For ten or more years he eluded government authorities while he printed and spent fake $1 bills in his New York neighborhood.
  • Catherine Murphy
    Catherine Murphy (counterfeiter)
    Catherine Murphy was an English counterfeiter, the last woman to be officially sentenced and executed by the method of burning in England and Great Britain....

     was convicted of coining in 1789 and was the last woman to suffer execution by burning
    Execution by burning
    Death by burning is death brought about by combustion. As a form of capital punishment, burning has a long history as a method in crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft....

     in England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

    .
  • John A. Murrell
    John Murrell (bandit)
    John A. Murrell , a near-legendary bandit operating in the United States along the Mississippi River in the mid-nineteenth century...

    ,
  • King Philip the Fair
    Philip IV of France
    Philip the Fair was, as Philip IV, King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was, as Philip I, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.-Youth:A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of...

     of France (1268–1314) caused riots and was known as "the counterfeiter king" for emitting coinage that was debased
    Debasement
    Debasement is the practice of lowering the value of currency. It is particularly used in connection with commodity money such as gold or silver coins...

     compared to the standards that had been prevalent during the half century previous to his reign.
  • Isaiah L. Potts (1784?-?) (United States), aliases used were William Potts, Billy or Billie Potts, Sr., was an Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

     tavern
    Tavern
    A tavern is a place of business where people gather to drink alcoholic beverages and be served food, and in some cases, where travelers receive lodging....

     owner who, allegedly, ran a gang of highwaymen and murderers, along a frontier
    Frontier
    A frontier is a political and geographical term referring to areas near or beyond a boundary. 'Frontier' was absorbed into English from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"--the region of a country that fronts on another country .The use of "frontier" to mean "a region at the...

     highway
    Highway
    A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

     near Cave-In-Rock
    Cave-In-Rock, Illinois
    Cave-In-Rock is a village in Hardin County, Illinois, United States. Its principal feature and attraction is a large nearby cave on the banks of the Ohio River. Cave-in-Rock was originally a stronghold for outlaws including; river pirates and highwaymen, Samuel Mason and James Ford, tavern...

     and was an associate of James Ford
    James Ford (pirate)
    James Ford was an American civic leader and business owner in western Kentucky and southern Illinois at the turn of the 19th century. Despite his clean public image, as a "Pillar of the Community", he was also, secretly, a river pirate and the leader of a gang that would come to be known as...

    .
  • Sturdivant Gang
    Sturdivant Gang
    The Sturdivant Gang was a multi-generational group of counterfeiters whose criminal activities took place over a 50 year period from Colonial Connecticut to the Illinois frontier. Although they did not follow the same frontier settlement pattern as most of the "Ancient Colony of Horse-Thieves,...

     - A multi-generational group of American
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     counterfeiters whose criminal activities took place over a 50 year period from Colonial Connecticut to the Illinois frontier.
  • Albert Talton - was sent to prison
    Prison
    A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

     for counterfeiting the one hundred U.S. dollar bill
    United States one hundred-dollar bill
    The United States one hundred-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin is currently featured on the obverse of the bill. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall. The time on the clock according to the...

     and the twenty U.S. dollar bill
    United States twenty-dollar bill
    The United States twenty-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. President Andrew Jackson is currently featured on the front side of the bill, which is why the twenty-dollar bill is often called a "Jackson," while the White House is featured on the reverse side.The...

    . Produced over 7 million dollars in counterfeit US currency using standard inkjet printer. Convicted and sent to prison in May 2009.
  • Samuel C. Upham
    Samuel C. Upham
    Samuel Curtis Upham was an American journalist, lyricist, merchant, and counterfeiter during the later part of the 19th century, sometimes known as "Honest Sam Upham".-Early life:...

     - the first known counterfeiter of Confederate
    Confederate States of America
    The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

     money during the American Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

    . His activities began or became known in early July 1862.
  • "Doc" Watson -
  • Wesley Weber
    Wesley Weber
    Wesley Weber was a Canadian who succeeded in counterfeiting the Canadian hundred-dollar bill. Because of this, many stores stopped accepting $100 dollar bills until the note was redesigned...

     - was sent to prison
    Prison
    A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

     for counterfeiting the Canadian hundred-dollar bill
    Canadian hundred-dollar bill
    The Canadian hundred-dollar bill is one of five different banknotes of the Canadian dollar. It is the highest-valued and least-circulated of the bills since the $1000 bill was gradually removed from circulation starting in 2000....

    .
  • Arthur Williams
    Arthur Williams (American counterfeiter)
    Arthur "Art" Williams is an American-born counterfeiter and subject of the book, The Art of Making Money by Jason Kersten. He is most known for having counterfeited the 1996 $100 Bill. He now resides at the Federal Correctional Institution in Big Spring, Texas...

     - was sent to prison
    Prison
    A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

     for counterfeiting the one hundred U.S. dollar bill
    United States one hundred-dollar bill
    The United States one hundred-dollar bill is a denomination of United States currency. U.S. statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin is currently featured on the obverse of the bill. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall. The time on the clock according to the...

    .

Money art


A subject related to that of counterfeiting is that of money art, which is art that incorporates currency designs or themes. Some of these works of art are similar enough to actual bills that their legality is in question. While a counterfeit is made with deceptive intent, money art is not - however, the law may or may not differentiate between the two. See JSG Boggs, the American artist best known for his hand-drawn, one-sided copies of US banknotes which he sells for the face value of the note.

The street artist Banksy
Banksy
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

 is known for making 10 pound notes with Princess Diana's portrait in place of the Queen and "Bank of England" was replaced with "Banksy of England". The artist's original intent was to throw them off a building but after a handful of them were dropped at a festival he found out they could pass for legal tender. He changed his mind and still has all one million pounds worth of the currency.

See also

  • Copyright infringement
    Copyright infringement
    Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...

  • Counterfeit
    Counterfeit
    To counterfeit means to illegally imitate something. Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product...

  • Coin counterfeiting
    Coin counterfeiting
    Coin counterfeiting of valuable antique coins is common; modern high-value coins are also counterfeited and circulated.Counterfeit antique coins are generally made to a very high standard so that they can deceive experts; this is not easy and many coins still stand out.-Circulating...

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

  • Money laundering
    Money laundering
    Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

  • Organized crime
    Organized crime
    Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

  • Russian Mafia
    Russian Mafia
    The Russian Mafia is a name applied to organized crime syndicates in Russia and Ukraine. The mafia in various countries take the name of the country, as for example the Ukrainian mafia....

  • Triad (underground societies)
  • United States Secret Service
    United States Secret Service
    The United States Secret Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency that is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The sworn members are divided among the Special Agents and the Uniformed Division. Until March 1, 2003, the Service was part of the United States...

  • Currency detector
    Currency detector
    A currency detector is a device that determines if a piece of currency is, or is not, counterfeit. These devices are used in vending machines that accept payment and dispense a product to a customer...