What We Can Learn From One Of The Most Accomplished Counterfeiters?

Albert Talton is undoubtedly one of the most successful counterfeiters in the US history. He printed and passed over seven million dollars in counterfeit currency, all of it made with standard PC printers.

The DIY Guy

What is, perhaps, the most interesting thing about his career is that he started with no experience as a counterfeiter. He developed his own method of counterfeiting with no help or instruction from anyone else. We can learn a lot from this kind of do-it-yourself attitude.

When was the last time that you undertook something on your own? If you’re like most of us, you probably look to an authority figure to tell you what you can and can’t do. We’re conditioned to ask a teacher or a scientist or some other “expert” before we undertake any new endeavor and, we often allow what they tell us to determine whether we will be successful or not.

The Genius

Albert Talton shows us that we only need ourselves. Consider his attitude towards technology; he once bought a Bose speaker system because he wanted to know how it worked. He opened up the speakers and, after some trial and error, he not only figured out how they worked, but was able to reproduce a similar pair of speakers using components that he bought from an electronics store. How’s that for ingenuity?

The Curious Guy

If you could reverse engineer the technology in your life, how much more empowered would you feel? Consider his approach to counterfeiting. Sometime in 2004, his boss at the time showed him a fake $50 note. Talton took one look at it and knew he could do better. So, with nothing more than his own curiosity, he tried printing some fake money on an ordinary Hewlett Packard printer that he picked up for about $150.

The Problem Solver

Of course, his first attempts weren’t very good, so he set about improving his counterfeit money.

The Paper for the Marker

One of the main problems was the paper. Counterfeit detection pens will show if money is real or not by the type of paper used. The ink shows as yellow on real money and brown or black on fake money. After successfully trying the pen on a toilet roll, Talton realized he could use newsprint to make his fake money. Toilet rolls and newsprint are all made from the same recycled paper pulp and newsprint is cheap and easy to get a hold of.

The Meticulous Guy

Talton also figured out that he could make a realistic looking water mark and security strip by printing them on two pieces of paper and sticking them together to give it the look of something embedded. He would then print each side with the design of a $100 bill and finally, he would spray the fake bill with hairspray to give it the feel of an authentic bank note. He came up with all this with out guidance from any one.

The Fame

His counterfeit money was so good that the secret service has some of his bills framed and mounted as souvenirs. Talton is also the subject of a book and an upcoming feature film. Not bad for a guy who dropped out of college.

To deal with such a genius, perhaps only a counterfeit money checker can do.

Talton wasn’t aware that the counterfeiting is the most serious offense to the U.S. economy, otherwise he may probably put his ingenuity into good use.


“Albert Talton’s Wild Ride: Lessons from a $7 Million Dollar Counterfeiter.” DailyFinance.com.
“The Most Notorious Counterfeiter Albert Talton.” Details.

One thought on “What We Can Learn From One Of The Most Accomplished Counterfeiters?”

  1. Wow, this guy really was a genius and a patient one too. You can just imagine how long it took him to do all those trial and errors before actually having a “convincing” counterfeit note. This story has really been an inspiration to me (not on counterfeiting but life in general). It really reminds you to never give up, be original and if you can’t be original, a little bit of reverse engineering will do. Also, you don’t really need advice from friends and family and if you know what you really want, you will get it without their assistance.

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