U.S. currency is counterfeited by a diverse group of perpetrators using a variety of methods. Although counterfeiters may engage in this activity for direct economic gain, counterfeiting is sometimes linked with other more nefarious criminal endeavors, such as drug trafficking, aims dealing, and alleged terrorist activities. According to law enforcement officials, counterfeiters run the gamut from office workers to organized crime and terrorist groups, and the equipment used for counterfeiting U.S. currency ranges from photocopiers to sophisticated offset presses. Moreover, the quality of counterfeit notes varies significantly, and even those made using the same method vary according to the sophistication of the perpetrator and the type of equipment used. Of increasing concern is the fact that certain foreign counterfeiters are becoming extremely sophisticated and are producing very high- quality counterfeit notes that are more difficult to detect than any previous counterfeits. Due to the criminal nature of this activity, the true extent of counterfeiting of U.S. currency abroad cannot be determined. The total level of counterfeit-currency detections-$208.7 million in fiscal year 1994-represented less than one one-thousandth of U.S. currency in circulation. Both Treasury and Secret Service officials agreed that counterfeiting of U.S. currency is a threat to be taken seriously, but that it is not now at a level that poses an economic threat to the U.S. monetary system. Treasury Department and Secret Service officials use counterfeit-detection data from the Secret Service to help assess the extent of counterfeiting. The Secret Service has also used these data to demonstrate significant increases in counterfeiting activity abroad, citing a 300-percent rise in detections in fiscal year 1993.
Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/