When times are hard, theft rises. Thieves and wanna-be crooks are always on the lookout for new ways to pick locks, beat security codes, or find some other way to live off your hard-earned wages. But, locks and security are not the only thing thieves set out to crack. Money counterfeiting is another, albeit not as popular, pastime of the malevolent sector of society.
Fortunately, some counterfeiters do not quite have their strategies down pat. This not only makes for easier crime solving, but also makes for entertaining water cooler conversation.
If you are going to attempt to fool Uncle Sam out of a wad of money by duplicating U.S. currency, the suggestion is to play it smart. The government is almost ridiculously careful, and rather jealous about the production of their bills. Generosity in sharing printing details is a character trait the US Treasury department seems not to possess. It’s right about there with their sense of humor. So most counterfeiters attempt bills in smaller denominations, as they undergo less security, but a recent counterfeiter seems to have failed the smart test when he tried to cash in some counterfeited $100 bills.
His first steps were fairly intelligent. He utilized a bleaching technique on lower denomination bills, eliminating printing, and producing a clean paper that felt like the real deal – actually a type of fabric that is so thin and pressed, it feels like paper. Authenticity in paper is one of the trickiest parts of counterfeiting money, according to AOL’s DailyFinance. You want to have that rag paper ready for your mega-bucks printer, because no average printer will do for this date with the President.
Once the bill was clean, the wanna-be-clever counterfeiter carefully printed the features of the $100 bill on it. However, he made one small but – well, hilarious – mistake: he forgot to do both heads.
The $100 bill features the distinguished head of the balding Benjamin Franklin in its center frame, and the counterfeiter faithfully reproduced this image. However, the watermark he used was the wrong president: he featured Abraham Lincoln instead. Whoops! This may have been due to a incomplete bleaching process that left Honest Abe on the paper, but whatever the reason it raised some eyebrows.
Alert clerks in three different locations spotted the misplaced identity and reported it to the police. In each case, the suspect escaped, but left the funny money in the hands of the laughing clerks.
But Seriously, Folks
We all enjoy a good laugh over dumb criminals. There is such a rise in crime that you have to laugh or you would just be too worried. But we can be glad that cash is so hard to reproduce and we don’t have to spend a lot of time concerned about getting a worthless piece of paper.
Counterfeiting US currency is tricky business, as the government has taken important steps in combating the crime. In fact, U.S. currency is the least counterfeited money in the world, according to 2002 statistics. Special paper and color shifting ink go a long way in the government’s prevention tactics, but watermarks, micro-printing, and inscribed security threads also boost security for U.S. bills. Despite the government’s efforts however, some people still attempt to pass off fake bills in exchange for real goods.
Busting the Crooks
Watermarks and locks have a lot in common: they both seek to stop would-be crooks in their tracks. And although this counterfeiter did not find success in his attempts to ease his living in these hard times, he might catch a less alert clerk off-guard at another time. The U.S. Treasury department offers some tips for dealing with counterfeit information that sound a lot like dealing with a thief:
Never put yourself in the way of danger
Attempt to delay the crook if possible
Keep an eye out for a physical description as well as license plate information
Call 911 or your local police department immediately
Do not handle the evidence
Meg Jones writes about safety, security and preventative measures people can take to protect themselves. She works with Phoenix Lock Master locksmithing and security company for those in AZ near Mesa and Phoenix.