How a Mom With a Printer Made $100 Bills
Tarshema Brice turned $5 bills into $100s. Yeah, not legally
By Derek Andersen, Newser User
Posted May 12, 2014 12:38 PM CDT
Updated May 17, 2014 4:05 PM CDT
The new $100 bill is more colorful and harder to counterfeit.   (AP)

(Newser) – A Hewlett-Packard 3-in-1 inkjet printer was essentially all it took for a working mom in Virginia to become a counterfeiter. Bloomberg takes a look at the case of Tarshema Brice, a 34-year-old hairstylist and janitor in Richmond who pleaded guilty last month to creating as much as $20,000 in phony bills over a two-year span. She "was raising six children on her own with modest income and was filling the gaps by making counterfeit money," specifically $50 and $100 bills, says her lawyer. She's also "emblematic" of something much larger, per Bloomberg: how easy digital technology has made it to churn out fake bills. You used to need a printing press; but in just 20 years, the percentage of such bills made on digital or laser printers and recovered by the feds has swelled from 1% to almost 60%.

The secret to Brice’s success was that she started with real currency—watermarked $5 bills. But from there, her tools were pretty ordinary ones. She used Purple Power degreaser, heated the bills in a microwave, got the ink off with a toothbrush, then ran the paper through her printer, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in December. The results of Brice’s work fooled local merchants and their counterfeit detection pens, although the watermark of Lincoln was incorrect for the larger bills. She was caught by police with a fake bill last year and arrested along with three accomplices in September. As for the modest size of their scheme, an agent notes that technology has stripped away the need to create fake millions. "Depending on the technology you are using, you could just print up some [money] to go out on a Friday night."

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Showing 3 of 88 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
Nov 25, 2014 3:20 PM CST
Vending machines use several authentication methods. One is a green ink reader. It has the electrical signature of all known bills (within the currency limits). Slot machines have a larger database of bills in order to pretty much accept them all. The very first color copier we got at work was a dye sublimation model. It was a spot on the dime. One of our interns copied several 20's both sides and took them home and cut them to size. He was just going to do it for fun. One of his roommates found one of the 20's and went down and bought beer at the convenience store. He was so worried the friend would be arrested he sent in a real 20 and apologized.
Box1Car
Nov 23, 2014 5:11 PM CST
Found my 15yr old grandson's friend had used carb cleaner to strip ink from $1 bills then photocopy a $100 onto both sides. while it defeated the swipe pen, it had no sepia band w/the "USA $100 USA $100" identifier strip, but otherwise you'd have fooled me> His friend got in trouble by a bank teller tho, and is no longer around, nor welcome
Kean Millward
May 18, 2014 10:20 AM CDT
If you will make all your bills the same size what do you expect! ;) Make them different sizes and you'd also help blind people not get cheated.