What Should You Do if You Suspect You Received Counterfeit Money?

One of the most common types of financial fraud is the use of counterfeit money. Sometimes, it is hard to earn enough money to survive, so some people make their own money — literally. Counterfeiting is a crime that requires a lot of attention to detail. Special equipment and techniques are necessary in order to pass off the bills as real.

Banknote counterfeiting takes place in several stages:

  • The acquisition of appropriate paper
  • The rendering of watermarks
  • The reproduction of security marks
  • The actual imprinting

How Counterfeit Money is Detected

Counterfeit money is often detected by a counterfeit detector pen, which is used by banks, retail stores, and other businesses. This pen has been the most successful counterfeit detection device in history since it appeared in stores in 1992.

A counterfeit detector pen serves as a chemical test that distinguishes the type of paper used for printing money. Genuine United States currency is printed on Crane’s currency paper stock. This paper is made entirely of linen and cotton and is resistant to tearing.

Almost all common paper is made with refined wood pulp combined with mineral pigments and starch. When you use a counterfeit detector pen on regular paper, it will turn brown or black, indicating that there is starch in the paper.

Crane’s will not sell their currency paper to anyone but the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Still, counterfeiters have ways to get around this. Many use a process commonly known as “bill bleaching.” This involves taking a $1 bill and soaking it in a tray of solvent, such as nail polish remover. This begins to dissolve the ink, with the counterfeiter scraping off the rest with steel wool. What is left is a blank piece of currency paper, which is then overprinted with a higher denomination, such as $20, $50, or $100.

Steps to Take

If you have determined with a high degree of certainty that currency is fake, you need to report it. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Do not return it to the person who gave it to you;
  • Delay the person, if possible.
  • Observe the person’s description, as well as the license plate numbers of any cars they may be in.
  • Contact your local police department.
  • Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspicious currency.
  • Limit handling of the currency. Place it in an envelope or other protective covering.
  • Surrender the currency only to a police officer or a U.S. Secret Service agent.

Contact Our Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

Using counterfeit money is a type of fraud that can result in serious penalties.

Counterfeiting charges can affect your life for years to come. In addition to a lengthy prison term, you could also be facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution, fines, and court costs. Get experienced representation from the Austin criminal defense lawyers from Granger and Mueller PC. To schedule a consultation, call (512) 474-9999 or fill out the online form.