The crime of counterfeiting money is as old as money itself. For as long as people have been tendering marks, coins and negotiable instruments, there have been others attempting to create fraudulent versions of them.
In the U.S., the Secret Service is the agency charged with securing currency and combating counterfeit crime. They report that approximately $150 Million of counterfeit money was circulated in the U.S. in 2009. This number has been steadily rising, with another report showing that the Secret Service made more than 1,580 counterfeiting-related arrests in 2018, seizing $204 million in phony bills. U.S. banks and retailers collected an additional $107 million in 2018.
Reasons for the extreme growth in the volume of counterfeit money are simple. In years past, production of quality counterfeit money required the skills of a journeyman artist to engrave plates and manage the inherent challenges of offset printing. Today, graphics software and high quality, low cost color printers mean an amateur can produce passable counterfeit notes easily through unprotected transaction points that are not equipped with detection capabilities.
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