Skip to main content

Counterfeits worth watching

Selling a fake U.S. $100 bill for $20 is the deal for counterfeiters in Peru.

I learned this fascinating fact when I happened upon a very interesting article on Great Britain’s Guardian newspaper website yesterday.

The faker being interviewed for the article said his operation manufactures $3 million to $5 million a week in fake $100 Federal Reserve Notes.

I assume this figure is measured in face value terms.

It sounds like a lot, especially when it is also reported that much of it is smuggled through Mexico into the United States.

To put the number in perspective, I looked up the U.S. Secret Service’s most recent annual report on its website.

Highlighted there in the 2014 report was a statistic that $58 million in fake bills had been seized in the prior annual reporting period.

That’s less than 12 weeks’ of the maximum Peruvian gang output.

Setting these figures side by side makes it seem like the Secret Service might be falling down on the job.

But law enforcement busts are not the most effective way of finding the fakes that have made it into circulation.

Buried in the Guardian story is the information that the world banking system’s automatic paper money counting machines easily identify and kick out the fakes.

This is not as exciting as an old G-man movie, but when it comes to the integrity of the cash in my wallet, I can do without the excitement.