Counterfeit bills reportedly on the rise

Newspaper says bogus bills found in circulation were up 10 percent to $62 million in fiscal year 2006.

NEW YORK ( -- The amount of counterfeiting is on the rise, according to a published report, helped by the use of digital scanners and printers.

USA Today reports that Secret Service figures show that $62 million in circulation was deemed counterfeit in the 12 months ending Sept. 30. That's up 10 percent from a year earlier and 69 percent from three years ago, according to the newspaper.

Counterfeit U.S. currency taken out of circulation was up 10 percent last year, according to a published report.
Counterfeit U.S. currency taken out of circulation was up 10 percent last year, according to a published report.

"Technology is making it easier for the people trying to do this on their own," Sgt. Bill Moltzan of the Pasco County, Fla., sheriff's office economic crimes told the newspaper.

The newspaper says Secret Service figures show 54 percent of the counterfeit currency collected in fiscal 2006 was made using digital technology rather than the more expensive and difficult offset printing process. In 1996, only 1 percent of counterfeit bills were digitally produced.

The increase in counterfeit bills being found could also be partly due to anti-counterfeiting measures that the government introduced starting in 2003, such as a watermark and color-shifting ink.

Dennis Forgue, head of currency at numismatics firm Harlan J. Berk in Chicago, told the newspaper the anti-counterfeit measures are making it easier for typical people and merchants to spot the fake currency.

The increase in currency caught should be seen "not necessarily as a sign of defeat, but as a sign of success," he told the paper.

Still, fake money in circulation is a fraction of 1 percent of genuine currency, Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told the paper.

The paper reported that counterfeiters are getting more bold, with one person arrested after offering a counterfeiting how-to class. The report also said that one man was caught at a strip club after strippers realized he was passing out fake bills and called police while the bouncer held the man.

A 62-year-old woman known as "Grandma," meanwhile, was caught this month trying to sell fake money at less than face value, the report said.

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