Security Technology

Easy-To-Use Technology Leading To Counterfeit Bump

It used to be a highly refined skill requiring substantial training and reserved for specialized technicians, but today counterfeiting is as easy as “the push of a button” say sources from the US federal government – and this is leading to a big jump in the amount of counterfeit banknotes in circulation.

The US Secret Service – the organization in charge of counterfeit deterrence and detection in the US – said there was $182 million worth of fake bills in circulation in 2009, more than double the total of counterfeits from the previous year, according to an article published this week in the Detroit Free Press.

The significant rise is directly correlated to high quality colour copying and printing technology, which has become more affordable and easy to access over the past few years. Recent Secret Service stats say nearly 62 per cent of the counterfeit bills used in 2009 were made using digital printers.

The fact that anybody can attempt counterfeiting now is concerning for Special Agent Scott Vogel, a Secret Service agent for nearly twenty years.

“If you’re able to put a piece of paper in a copy machine and push a button, that’s pretty much all it takes.”
Some technology manufacturers and lobbyists, however, have taken steps to implement devices into copiers and scanners that prevent successful one-click forgeries.

The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group (CBCDG), for example, developed anti-counterfeiting software that would generate an error message if someone attempted to scan banknotes with the computer program Adobe Photoshop.

Similarly, Hewlett Packard introduced printers able to detect similarities only found on currencies. When printed, the printer automatically alters the colours so the difference between the final product and the original banknote are unmistakable.

Most currencies also have high-tech security features that could not be copied by a simple scanner or photocopier. Holograms, security threads, special inks and watermarks are a few of the features a colour copier could not accurately reproduce. On top of that, banknote paper is very different in feel, appearance and texture compared to other paper products.

Still, the Secret Service and lawyers across the US says more and more people are giving counterfeiting a whirl thanks to these technologies.

“You are getting more people having the gall to try and pass funny money with all this technology,” Elias Muawad, a criminal defense lawyer from Bloomfield Hills who has handled several counterfeiting cases over the last decade told the Detroit Free Press. “Is more counterfeiting going on? Are there more people coming up with ways to do it? Absolutely.”

“More Fake Money Hitting Streets: Counterfeiters Grow As The Only Skill Needed Is To Push A Button”
Global Paper Security: “Learning More About The CBCDG”
Global Paper Security: “How Computer Software Can Prevent Counterfeiting”


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