Outline the evolution of the techniques used to counterfeit currency.

| September 7, 2016

Methodology of Economic Crimes work Ind5

Week 5: Week Five – Individual Work

Instructional Objectives for this activity:
Outline the evolution of the techniques used to counterfeit currency.

From your review of Chapter 4 of the text, please summarize some of the technology that is now being used to assist in the process of attempting to counterfeit currency. Please also check the web for any additional information you may find out about the newest technology to assist with this process.

In addition, review the material on the new security features that have been integrated into the currency in circulation over the past fifteen to twenty years, on pages 102-105. What enhancements have been added to this currency that makes it more difficult to duplicate and counterfeit?

Your final paper should be approximately 300-400 words (1 pages) in length. Please cite your material in APA format.

In the Book page 102-105

Security Features in Currency:

The Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is responsible for Printing the currency and the Federal Reserve System is responsible for issuing the currency

In December 1993, the National Research Council (NRC) FUNDED BY THE Department of the Treasury, published Counterfeit Deterrent Features for the Next Generation Currency Design, which analyzed and recommended overt counterfeit deterrent features that could be incorporated into a redesign of U.S. banknotes. The development costs for the new series were $265,376 to fund the NRC study, and approximately $500,000 to purchase test quantities of features and carry $20, $50, and $100 notes; and the 1999 $5 and $10 notes.

Two of the security features found prior to the new change are security threads and micro printing.

Security Thread:

A security thread is a thin thread or ribbon running through a bank note substrate. All 1990 series and later notes, except the 1, features. The note’s denomination is printed on the tread. In addition, the threads of the new $5, $10, and $20 and $50 notes have graphics in addition to the printed denomination. The denomination number appears in the star field of the flag printed on the tread. The thread in the new notes glows when held under a long-wave ultraviolet light. In the new $5 it glow blue, in the new $10 it glows orange, in the new $20 note it glows green, in the new $50 note it glows orange, in the new $20 note it glows green, in the new $50 note it glow yellow, and in the new $100 note it glows red. Since it is visible in transmitted light, but not in reflected light, the thread is difficult to copy with a color copier which uses reflected light to generate an image. Using a unique thread position for each denomination guards against certain counterfeit techniques, such a bleaching ink off a lower denomination and using the paper to reprint” the bill as a higher value note.


This print appears as a thin line to the naked eye, but the lettering easily can be read using a low –power magnifier. The resolution of most current copies is not sufficient to copy such fine print. On the newly designed $5, microprinring can be found in the side borders and along the lower edge of the portraits frame on the face of the note. On the new $10, microprinting appears in the numeral “10” in the lower left-hand corner and along the lower edge of the portrait’s frame on the face of the note. On the new $20 notes, microprinring appears in the lower left corner and along the lower edge ornamentation of the oval framing the portrait. On the $50 notes, microprinring appears on the side borders and in Ulysses Grant’s collar. On the $100 notes, microprinring appears in the lower left corner numeral and on Benjamin Franklin’s coat. In 1990, 1993, and 1995 series note’s, “The United States of America” is printed repeatedly in a line outside the portrait frame.


The watermark’s is formed by varying paper density in a small area during the papermaking process. The image is visible as darker and lighter areas when held up to the light. Since the watermark does not copy on color copiers or scanners, it makes it harder to use lower denomination paper to print counterfeit notes in higher denominations and is a good way to authenticate the note. It depicts the same historical figure as the engraved portrait.

Watermarks are not new invention. They were first used in the late thirteenth century in the handmade papers of Italy. Watermarks have been used to mark important documents, and on foreign currency. Ben Franklin’s personal stationary had his own personal watermark in the paper.

Color-Shifting Inks:

These inks, used in the numeral on the lower right corner of the face of the note, change color when the note is viewed from different angles, and ink appears green when viewed directly and change to black when the note it tilted.

This is perhaps the most “high-teach” of the new security features. The change in color is the result of multi-layered metallic flakes added to the ink. When the bill is tilted, light reflects off these flakes at different wavelengths and changes colors. This is called color diffraction, which is also responsible for the color variations found on the wings of some butterflies. Because this special combination of materials and ink is sold exclusively to the United States government, the Treasury Department is hopeful that this will be feature that will be extremely difficult to counterfeit. (Page 104).

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