Why is it so hard to counterfeit currency?

607 views

It is seen quite often that counterfeiters get caught. Apart from the serial numbers what is it that the counterfeiters cannot reproduce about a bill?

In: Other

Currency is specifically made to be hard to counterfeit. There are multiple security features present in larger denominations that are difficult to replicate without some serious investment.

US bills use a special and hard to source paper and ink, contain highly detailed watermarks, holographic panels, extremely fine die cuts, markings that stop printers and scanners, plastic security strips…

Convincigly replicating all of these is no small feat, and trying to source all the equipment and materials to do so will get you a visit from the Secret Service.

[us specific].

The paper itself is a unique blend that is nearly impossible to replicate accurately

The printing process (raised intaglio) is rarely used outside of printing currency.

The level of detail of printing is extremely hard to replicate using consumer inkjet printers.

Certain features, such as embedded UV fluorescent plastic strips and watermarks (created by varying the thickness of paper), are just about impossible to replicate. This also applies to magnetic ink patterns, optically variable ink symbols, etc

[Here](https://www.currexy.com/us-dollar-security-features) is a breakdown of various security features on the various bills. Everything from microprinting, to security seals, to special secret blends of cotton and linen for the paper.

Lets look at US bills, as it’s the one I’m most familiar with. First is the material, which is a specially made cotton blend with red and blue fibers mixed throughout. Its made by only one company, and is illegal for anyone else to buy or sell. It also reacts to counterfeit detection pens, while most other fabrics and papers wont react the same way.

The there’s the artwork itself. Bills are stamped with extremely detailed metal dies that produces a crisp image on the bill. Under a microscope, or even close inspection, printers can’t compete with this level of detail. What looks like a line to the naked eye is actually text in certain places on the bill.

Next are the holographic inks, which are hard to get right, and change based on the angle the light hits the bill. Additionally, the bills have UV florescent stripes on them the can only be seen under blacklight.

All of these measures are beatable, but to produce a counterfeit bill that beats all these tests might cost more than the bill is worth, defeating the whole purpose. Older bills that don’t have all these security methods are out there, but as time drags on, and those bills become less common, they become more suspicious. If someone hands a bank teller a crisp 20 year old bill, its going to set off alarm bells in that tellers head, causing them to scrutinise the bill even more.

There are a TON of security features present. You can find a ton of details here:

https://www.uscurrency.gov/sites/default/files/downloadable-materials/files/CEP_Dollars_In_Detail_Brochure_0.pdf

One of the big ones is – They’re not made out of paper. They’re made out of fabric – typically a mix of cotton and linen. That’s a huge barrier for 99.99% of people. For everyone else, there’s everything from strips embedded in the fabric, specialized ink that color shifts, incredibly fine details that are hard to duplicate in the designs, raised printing of ink, etc. Making a convincing fake becomes incredibly difficult.

Currency is equipped with various anti-counterfeiting devices that are hard to duplicate.

The paper + ink used is unique to that currency and is designed so that it can’t be easily obtained by civilians. The paper is a blend of paper and fabric to make more durable and harder to duplicate.

Currency also has holograms, special reflective inks, special plastic threads woven into the fabric, and uses intricate designs that are designed to defeat photocopiers and scanners.

US currency is difficult to counterfeit but relatively easy to counterfeit compared to the currency used by the likes of Europe, Australia, and Canada.

Other countries have switched to using plastic bills with holograms and transparent parts that are much more difficult to counterfeit than the traditional paper money the US uses.