Posts Tagged ‘counterfeit’

The History of the Paper Dollar

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

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The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first of the thirteen colonies to issue permanently circulating banknotes in 1690. The reason behind this was because the paper could be more readily printed and circulated than gold coin. Many of these early bills were marked “Tis Death to Counterfeit.” In the early 1700s, each of the thirteen colonies had issued their own banknotes called “colonial script.” 1789 brought about the First Band of the United States which issued fixed denominations and printed banknotes until 1811 when it closed. From 1816 to 1841, the (you guessed it) Second Bank of the United States took on the responsibilities of printing banknotes.


The civil war, in 1861, needed to be funded with money that there just wasn’t enough of. In 1862, under Abraham Lincoln, the demand notes were issued, taking the place of interest bearing currency. Some necessities were added and changed in the next few years in order to stop counterfeiters. The new “Greenbacks” had an engraved Treasury seal and red and blue fibers in the paper which made them (at the time) very difficult to counterfeit which would cost the banks more money. Gold certificates were also issued against gold coin and bullion and were still in circulation until 1933 as well as silver certificates being issued for silver dollars until 1957. 1865 brought on the need for a Secret Service to police and control counterfeiters. How much was that really needed and how much of the US’s money was counterfeit? Oh only about one-third!


The one dollar United States Note was redesigned with a portrait of George Washington in the center and a vignette of Christopher Columbus. The back of the note also featured green and blue tinting. In 1880 the red floral design was added around the words “One Dollar” and “Washington D.C.” From 1890 to 1899 the gold and silver certificates were redesigned repeatedly in order to continue to make them harder and harder to be counterfeited. In 1910 the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing took on all currency production functions including engraving, printing and processing. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 created the Federal Reserve System. This means that the Federal Reserve became the central bank, regulating the flow of money. The Federal Reserve also became, to this day, the only authorized entity to issue Federal Reserve Notes (also known as, The Dollar(s)) which are the only U.S. currency produced and 99% of all currency in circulation!


“In God We Trust” No matter your religion, you know this phrase. This phrase was required by Congress in 1955 to be on every piece of currency and to this day, it still is. The last major change that was made was the microprinted security thread which was first introduced in 1990. It started with the $100 bills and the $50 bills, then eventually was introduced into the $20s, $10s, $5s, and $1s. Take a look at the money in your wallet. Now you know part of the long road traveled it took to get there.

United States Secret Service’s Role in Currency Counterfeit Prevention

Monday, December 15th, 2008

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US Secret ServiceMost ordinary U.S. citizens might not associate the Secret Service with our Nation’s currency. In fact, perhaps one of the best known services of the United States Secret Service is protecting our nation’s leaders, especially the President. However, the Secret Service plays a vital role in protecting our currency and in turn, our economy. Currently a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service is responsible for two very distinct areas of responsibility. First, and notably the most well-known, Secret Service Agents serve in protective roles as to preserve the safely of our nation’s leaders and their families. Second, and less publically noted, the Secret Service is responsible for the prevention and investigation of crimes involving US currency and treasury bonds.

In 1865, the U.S. Secret Service was first established for the specific purpose of combating the counterfeiting of money.  At the time, it was reported that one-third to one-half of all the currency in circulation in the U.S. was counterfeit. In fact, in the midst of the Civil War, with somewhere around 7,000 different bills in circulation, it became almost impossible to detect a counterfeit bill from a legitimate one. Therefore, the United States Secret Service was born in order to prevent any further damage to the nation’s struggling economy.  

In 1967, the agency took on additional responsibilities which included investigating those suspected of perpetrating frauds against the government and also served other role of investigating a broad range of crime areas including everything from robberies, murders, the Ku Klux Klan, non-conforming distillers, land fraud, smugglers all the way to illegal gambling.  

Today, the Secret Service is now a division of the Department of Homeland of Security and although the roles assumed by the Secret Service in its early days have since been passed on to other agencies including the FBI, ATS, and IRS, the Secret Service retains primary jurisdiction over all areas of counterfeit U.S. currency and treasury notes as well as its special duty of protecting the president, first lady, and other U.S. dignitaries. The agency also tracks suspicious individuals and steps in to access local crimes when necessary.

One of the oldest crimes in our nation’s history is counterfeit money. Although today’s money has many more preventative measures in place to protect our currency, counterfeiting remains a very real danger for our nation’s economy. In fact, due to modern technologies available to thieves, such as photographic and printing equipment, it has become easier and easier for thieves to commit counterfeiting fraud, therefore, requiring the Secret Service in combination with the U.S. Mint to enact more and more security features into our nation’s currency.

Due to the nature of its role, many details surrounding the Secret Service are kept “secret”. Many of the agents’ identities are kept confidential for their own protection as well as the protection of their job duties. In fact, even the wives and families of some secret service agents do not know their husbands and fathers as Secret Service Agents. Whereas, many agencies require uniforms of their agents, the Secret Service uniforms are designed to blend in with the role they are performing and can range from tuxedos to business suits to jeans.

In conclusion, the United States Secret Service plays a crucial role in the safety of our nation. It protects some of the most important persons in our nation all the way from the President and First Family, to other political figures and embassies. However, its role in protecting our currency is perhaps as crucial to our economy as any other role assumed by the agency. 

The Super Dollar

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

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money counterfeitSuper Dollars are the most perfect counterfeit of the US paper currency in recent history. The forgery of these super dollars, or also widely known as super notes, is so shrouded in controversy and mystery, that the identity of the organization or government involved remains unknown until today, although this did little in preventing all sorts of rumors and buzz being speculated on the matter. The term “super” probably derived from the the fact that the technology engaged in producing these notes is without doubt, state-of-the-art. Super dollars are also officially known as PN-14342, a categorization order originating from the US Secret Service.

The United States Government, at one stage, alleged that North Korea may have something to do with producing these super notes. Many also say that this lucid operation was stemming out from countries like Iran, China, and Russia. The most controversial theory to date, though, is the possibility of direct CIA involvement.

North Korea’s alleged involvement brewed from several North Korean renegades who revealed the account of this underground operation, as suspicious as their stories were, in thorough detail. Some have accused these defectors of sabotage and that these nonsensical fabrications were inspired by nothing but money. It was also alleged that the distribution process of these super dollars was piped and networked through international crime syndicates and more shockingly, some of the North Korean diplomats themselves. So serious were these allegations that the US, at one point, was threatening a separate sanction from the existing nuclear one, against North Korea, before the entire issue was dropped altogether.

This serious claim took a major hit in early 2007 conversely, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily, disputed the North Korean charge and shifted the heat back to the US by asserting otherwise. According to them, their research showed that the real masterminds behind the super dollars is no other than the CIA itself, through a secret printing facility close to Washington state. According to the newspaper, these super dollars, which are being used to facilitate secret CIA operations, was what US intelligence desperately needed, as they are not subject to congressional approvals or scrutiny, ultimately giving the CIA power to do as it well please. An expert on counterfeiting also alleges that the super dollar is so superior in quality that only an outfit like the CIA is capable of orchestrating such a feat.

More and more accusations have spawned since and as ludicrous as some of these allegations may be, the one thing that everyone agrees on is the ingenuity of the forgery itself. The main reason why the super dollar is so intelligible is because it is designed with its security features in mind. The forgers behind the super dollar knew that essentials like the red and blue security fibers, the security thread, and the watermark are the most important characteristic of the currency that they must first master to counterfeit, apart from using the highest quality of paper and ink. Such intricacy goes into recreating these notes that even experts need to put it through rigorous inspections before deeming it as bogus money. It is also acknowledged that these super dollars are produced using the intaglio and typographic printing processes, just as the originals. It is said that in every 10,000 dollar notes circulating internationally, one is a super dollar.

How to Detect Counterfeit Dollar Bills

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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counterfeit dollar bill

Did you know that less that 1/100 of 1% of dollar bills in circulation today are counterfeit, which is a very small percentage given its incentives and the technological advances readily accessible today. This is probably because of the recently enhanced security features of the dollar bill and the stiffer criminal penalties associated to counterfeiting, which discourages counterfeiters from venturing into US currencies.

Nevertheless, given the amount of dollar bills that is in current circulation internationally, the chances of you stumbling across a note or two are pretty good, most times without us even realizing it. Mind you, finding yourself in possession of one, knowingly, is a federal offence. Having that said, prepared below are just some of the basic easy to follow steps of detecting counterfeit dollar bills:

1. People who fairly handle money quit a bit will be able to identify a fake dollar bill right away simply by touching it. Even if you don’t handle money that often, you would have felt enough genuine money to be able to tell a real one from a fake, just by paying close attention. The surface of a genuine dollar bill is slightly raised, which makes it somewhat three dimensional, an effect produced during the intaglio process. Most fake dollar bills have flat surfaces.

2. Check the printing quality of the dollar bill. Genuine dollar bills are printed using a procedure that negates digital printing and it’s so easy to spot, although this replication process may be achievable by the more experiences counterfeiters. Look out for blurry spots, smears, fine details which may appear dull, designs, portraits, and features, which are distinctive especially to that particular denomination in question. You can easily do this by comparing two notes of the same value together.

3. All dollar bills have little red and blue fibers which are embedded within the note. Counterfeit notes will have the detail printed on instead, that’s how you tell.

4. One of the most famous ways of detecting counterfeit money is by holding it up to the light and looking out for the watermark. The watermark on genuine dollar bills must match the print. Another feature to look out for, especially for the $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100 bills, is the security thread, which is a plastic strip embedded and runs, vertically, from top to the bottom of the dollar bill.

5. Take note of the serial number and make sure they match. The serial numbers should be spread out evenly in space and are perfectly aligned. Another easy way to spot counterfeit is by making sure that serial numbers don’t match. Serial numbers are distinct on each dollar bill.

6. The newer denominations of $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills have the color-shifting ink feature. The ink will appear to change in color when tilted to a certain angle, a feature which is difficult to replicate by counterfeiters.

7. Last but not least, hold your dollar bill under a black light to see if the security strip glows. The $5 bill will have a blue glow, the $10 orange, the $20 green, the $50 yellow, and the $100 bill red.
Hope the information above helps you identify counterfeit dollar bills better. If you have any other ideas or tips, please feel free to post your comments below.

What To Do When You Receive A Counterfeit Bill ?

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

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making counterfeit dollar billThe United States Treasury Department has outlined very specific guidelines for dealing with suspected counterfeit money. On their government website, there is a list of things that they suggest you do for your own security.

First of all, if you suspect a counterfeit, report it to your local police or the U.S. Secret Service. If you are away from home, you should report the suspected counterfeit note to the closest police department located in the same town, or a neighboring one. This should also be done if you are in another country.

Here are some of the guidelines on the website:

  • You should not give the bill back to the person who gave it to you.
  • Try to delay the person, if possible.
  • Avoid putting your fingerprints on the bill. Put it in an envelope or a plastic bag.
  • Give the bill to an identified police officer, or mail it to the U.S. Secret Service Agent that is closest to you. Do not give it to anyone else.

There are several ways to spot a counterfeit bill on the website as well. There should be a watermark that is visible when looking at either side of the bill when it is held up to the light. There is also a security thread that is embedded in each bill. This thread is also visible when the bill is held up to the light.

If you have an ultraviolet light available, each bill will glow a certain color under that light (unless it is a $1 bill). If there is no glow, then it could be a counterfeit.

There are further details on dealing with suspected counterfeit bills on the United States Department of Treasury website, www.ustreas.gov. Visit their website for more information on counterfeit bills.