Feds: Today's Counterfeiters Are Poor Copies

Ink-jet amateurs replace skilled crooks who once fooled experts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2008 8:29 AM CST
The counterfeit rate in US currency is .02 percent, or one in every 10,000 bills. WHen Abraham Lincoln created the Secret Service to deal with the problem, a third of cash in circulation was phony.   (Flickr)
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(Newser) – Secret Service agents are waxing nostalgic for counterfeiters of old, the Kansas City Star reports. The printers who once produced 20s, 50s, and 100s good enough to fool experts have been replaced by home office crooks who reproduce small bills on ink-jet printers. "It’s a lost art," says special agent Charles Green. He recalls a 1980s case for two million counterfeit dollars: “That’s the kind of case we used to make.”

Ink-jet counterfeits account for 60% of all fake money seized, up from just 1% in 1995. The poor quality of the fakes, often made by drug addicts printing a few bills at a time, still fool people and circulate. Part of the problem is that US bills have changed to foil counterfeiters so many times that store owners can't spot funny money. The Secret Service offers to come by and give classes. “We do it all the time,” Green says. “Just call.”