Counterfeit United States currency

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Counterfeiting of the currency of the United States is widely attempted. According to the United States Department of Treasury, an estimated $70 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation, or approximately 1 note in counterfeits for every 10,000 in genuine currency, with an upper bound of $200 million counterfeit, or 1 counterfeit per 4,000 genuine notes.[1][2]

However, these numbers are based on annual seizure rates on counterfeiting, and the actual stock of counterfeit money is uncertain because some counterfeit notes successfully circulate for a few transactions.


Shortly after the Civil War, it was estimated that one third to one half of the nation's currency was counterfeit. Due to this fact, counterfeit money posed a major threat to the economy and financial system in America.

In accordance, the Secret Service, founded in 1865, stated its primary task to be reducing counterfeit money in circulation. The current figure of American counterfeit bills is less than .01%.[3]

Several specific examples of groups counterfeiting United States currency have also been noted.

Operation Bernhard[edit]

Main article: Operation Bernhard

During World War II Nazi Germany successfully produced high-quality counterfeits of American dollar and Bank of England pound notes although few ever were circulated thoroughly.


Main article: Superdollar

Superdollars, very high quality counterfeit one hundred-dollar bills, were some of the most widely distributed counterfeit American dollar bills and were still being produced after 2007. The Congressional Research Service has conducted a study and concluded with an accusation that North Korea was responsible for their production, but Pyongyang denied any involvement with Superdollar.[4]

Peru 2001 CB-B2 series $100 bill incident[edit]

In 2005, Peruvian Banks ceased to accept $100 bills from the 2001 series CB-B2, due to a detection in a series of counterfeit bills in Peruvian circulation. The Peruvian media reported that the notes were so well made that they were "perfect fakes". The differences between them and genuine bills were reportedly minuscule and difficult to detect.[5] According to Peruvian news reports, a printing plate from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was stolen by a criminal, with possible links to al-Qaeda, and the plate was likely used to produce the counterfeit bills.[6]

Operation Gait $100 bills[edit]

Bills forged by Anatasios Arnaouti in the UK (2005).


Upon collecting bills, the Federal Reserve checks all notes, destroying any whose appearance fails to fit that of a federal bill.

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