Counterfeiting money has been a criminal act ever since banks were created. Counterfeiting money is a serious type of fraud that involves making fake bills and coins. Since money is an important part of our economy, the government punishes counterfeiters of currency very severely.

What Are the Likely Consequences of Counterfeiting Money?

Counterfeiting money is a federal felony. Unlike other federal crimes, the Secret Service is in charge of investigating counterfeiting cases. If you are caught for counterfeiting money, consequences are very severe and can include:

  • Imprisonment (up to 15 years)
  • Heavy fines
  • Confiscation of any property used to counterfeit (will not be returned)
  • On your record for life
  • Paying restitution

Is it a Crime If I Unknowingly Use Counterfeit Money?

If you use counterfeit money without realizing it, it will not be considered a crime (only if you honestly didn't know!). If you suspect you were given counterfeit money, contact the police and tell them where it came from. You should be suspicious of any bills that look sloppily printed or have missing symbols. Though it is not easy to spot counterfeit money, here are things to look for:

  • Portrait - Every bill has a portrait of an important figure. The portrait should appear clear and stand out distinctly from the background. Counterfeiters have a hard time making the portrait stand out.
  • Seals - Every bill has both a Federal Reserve and Treasury seal. If a bill lacks either one, it is a counterfeit bill.
  • Serial numbers - Each bill has a serial number. A serial number should be printed in a straight and unwavering line with each number evenly spaced. It should be the same color as the Treasury Seal.
  • Paper - Money is printed on specialized paper (the paper is illegal to possess). A close inspection of a bill will show whether the money was printed on the specialized paper. If it is authentic, the paper is embedded with red and blue lines instead of having the lines drawn on the paper.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

Being accused of counterfeiting money is a serious offense. If you unknowingly used counterfeit money and was charged with a crime, consult an attorney. An experienced criminal attorney can prove your innocence. If you have been caught with counterfeiting, consult an attorney to learn more about your rights and defenses. An experienced attorney can at least reduce your criminal sentence.