linked to header image linked to header image linked to header image
Skip Header InformationSkip to navigation United States Secret Service USSS Star
   United States Secret Service Star


Advanced Technologies in Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting of money is one of the oldest crimes in history. It was a serious problem during the 19th century when banks issued their own U.S. currency. At the time of the Civil War, it was estimated that one-third of all currency in circulation was counterfeit.

At that time, there were approximately 1,600 state banks designing and printing their own notes. Each note carried a different design, making it difficult to distinguish the 4,000 varieties of counterfeits from the 7,000 varieties of genuine notes.

It was anticipated that the adoption of a national currency in 1863 would solve the counterfeiting problem. However, the national currency was soon counterfeited so extensively it became necessary for the government to take enforcement measures. On July 5, 1865, the United States Secret Service was established to suppress counterfeiting.

Although counterfeiting has been substantially curtailed since the creation of the Secret Service, this crime continues to represent a potential danger to the nation's economy and its citizens. Production methods used in counterfeiting operations have evolved over the years from the traditional method of offset printing to color copiers and, more recently, to scanners, computers and inkjet printers.

The Secret Service has noted that many of today's counterfeiters have moved from the traditional method of offset printing, which has its own set of required skills, to computer-generated counterfeiting. Today's counterfeiter is able to produce counterfeit currency with basic computer training and skills afforded by trial and error, and public education. Counterfeit passing statistics are likely to increase because of several factors: these instruments of production are more readily available, the capabilities of these machines continue to improve and the techniques are more readily understood by an increasingly larger segment of the population, including those with criminal intent.

The United States Secret Service remains committed to zero tolerance and is determined to investigate each and every counterfeiting case. Each counterfeiting case, no matter how large or small, carries the serious consequences of incarceration and/or fines.

Office Machine Copiers / Printers
Advanced technology in the office machine copier/printer industry has made it possible for even unskilled operators to produce high-resolution color reproductions. The widespread availability of such copiers/printers has increased the incidence of the manufacturing and passing of office machine notes.

Toner Technology
Copiers/printers using toner technology generally employ the electrostatic transfer of toner (dry plastic powder) to the paper. This results in the image area resting on top of the surface of the paper. In addition, small particles of toner can often be seen, under magnification (approximately 20x power), outside the image area.

There are three basic types of toner notes: (1) black and white, (2) monochromatic, and (3) full color.
  1. Black and white copier notes bear images produced by black toner only.
  2. Monochromatic utilizes single color toners. (i.e., red, green, blue and brown). Treasury seals and serial numbers will be a solid shade of green, rather than a combination of yellow and cyan. The back plate often is a mixture of green and black toner.
  3. Full color notes bear images produced by utilizing a combination of yellow, magenta (bright pink), cyan (light blue) and black toners.

Ink Jet Technology
Ink Jet copiers/printers spray tiny droplets of ink from the printer head through a small gap of air onto the paper to form the image.
Black and White
Black & White
Ink Jet
Ink Jet
Full Color
Full Color

Previous Page | Table of Contents | Next Page

 linked to header image USSS Star

» Search the website

Powered by

» Home
» Who We Are
  - Director
  - Deputy Director
  - Chief Operating Officer
  - Special Agents
  - Uniformed Division
  - Support Personnel
» Our Dual Mission
» Rowley Training Center
» History
» Frequently Asked Questions
» Student Q&A

Contact Us
» Contact Information
» Field Offices

» Investigative Mission
» Criminal Investigations
» Forensic Services
» Investigative Support
» Know Your Money
» Electronic Crimes Task Force
» Law Enforcement Resources

» 2016 Presidential Campaign FAQs.pdf
» Protective Mission
» How Protection Works
» National Special Security Events
» National Threat Assessment Center

Press Room
» Most Wanted
» Photo Gallery
» Press Releases
» Annual Report
» Downloads
» Information Quality

» Employment Opportunities
» Application Forms
» Equal Employment Opportunity
» EEO Data Posted Pursuant to the
» Reasonable Accommodation

Business Opportunities
» Procurement Division
(For Vendors)

» Boys and Girls Club Partnership
» Center for Missing and Exploited Children Partnership

Copyright 2014 United States Secret Service. All rights reserved.
Home | Privacy Policy | Security Notice | Section 508 | Department of Homeland Security |