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Inkjet printers are a modern-day counterfeiter’s best friend.
Gone are the days of huge printing presses and boxes upon boxes of ink and quality paper, printing out millions of fake greenbacks. Ed Lowery, the agent in charge of the Secret Service’s criminal division, told Bloomberg that times have changed, and digital technology now reigns.
Bloomberg told the story of a 34-year-old hairstylist who took real $5 bills, soaked them in degreaser and scrubbed the ink off with a toothbrush, then dried them and reprinted them as $50 and $100 bills using a Hewlett-Packard printer. She counterfeited $20,000 in phony bills before she was caught.
Nearly 60 percent of the $88.7 million in counterfeit bills that were recovered last year were made using an inkjet or laser printer. In 1995, less than 1 percent of bogus bills were printed on digital printers, Bloomberg said.
Most of the digital counterfeiters produced a few hundred or thousand in fake bills, the Secret Service said. Others were more industrious. Last month, a 37-year-old self-taught graphic artist was sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading a counterfeiting ring that manufactured $1.4 million in fake $50s and $100s.
There are ways to spot phony bills. In addition to blurry borders and images that aren’t as crisp as the real thing, CBS News said:
The U.S. Treasury has redesigned its bills to make them harder to fake, with the new $100 bill introduced last fall with security features such as a blue 3-D security ribbon to the right of Benjamin Franklin. The Secret Service also has tips about how to spot counterfeit bills (Hint: Fake bills often have “lifeless or flat” portraits).
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