Title 18, Section 471 of the United States Code states that manufacturing counterfeit United States currency or altering genuine currency to increase its value is a violation punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or 15 years imprisonment or both. Also in Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code, defacement, mutilating, cutting, disfiguring, perforating, uniting or cementing together any bank bill, draft, note or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such items unfit to be reissued, shall be fined and/or imprisoned for up to six months.
You can just as easily be imprisoned and/or fined just for possession of counterfeit money with fraudulent intent. All of these offenses are covered under Title 18 of the United States Code. Possession of counterfeit money is under Section 472 and is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and/or 15 years imprisonment. These sections in Title 18 regarding counterfeiting are clear and strict however they only cover paper money. The defacement section covers all money. Defacement of currency in such a way that it’s made unfit for circulation is under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service.
Regarding the counterfeiting of change, also covered in Title 18, is outlined in Section 331of the United States Code. It seems that there isn’t a big problem of counterfeiting pennies because pennies are not mentioned whatsoever in this section. However, anyone manufacturing a counterfeit U.S. count in any denomination above 5 cents (which also sounds like nickels aren’t included, just amounts above them) is subject to the same penalties as all other counterfeiters, that is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or 15 years imprisonment. Someone who is only altering, not manufacturing, a U.S. coin to increase its value, also according to Section 331, is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and or imprisonment of up to 5 years.
Section 510 covers the forging, altering or trafficking in United States government checks, bonds or other obligations. If you were to participate in doing these things, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 and or 10 years in prison. Section 474 covers and prohibits the printing reproductions, photographs of paper currency, checks, bonds, postage stamps, revenue stamps and securities of the United States. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $5, 000 and/or 15 years in jail.
We all know, especially in these hard times that sometimes money is scarce. People are losing their jobs and paying more for their homes, food and basic necessities. The more people counterfeit, the lower the value of our dollar drops. If this is something you were to come across, think of the consequences outlined here and think if using counterfeit money is worth the $2,000 to $10,000 fine and years of jail time is worth it. Chances are that you would rather stay in the position you are in than every try to counterfeit money!