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Counterfeiting money

Museum Display

Counterfeiting money, an age-old crime, has a long and notorious history. In certain periods of early history, it was deemed an act of treason, carrying the penalty of death.

During the Civil War, around 1,600 state banks took it upon themselves to print their own bills. With each bill sporting a unique design, the task of distinguishing counterfeit notes from the 7,000 variations of legitimate bills became arduous. To tackle this problem, a national currency was introduced in 1862. However, it didn’t take long for counterfeiters to extensively replicate it, prompting the need for stricter enforcement measures.

Thus, on July 5, 1865, the United States Secret Service was established with the purpose of combating the rampant counterfeiting of the nation’s currency.

While the establishment of the Secret Service significantly curbed the counterfeiting of money, this crime continues to pose a potential threat to the nation’s economy. In fact, counterfeiting is experiencing a resurgence today. This resurgence can be attributed to the ease and rapidity with which modern photographic and printing equipment allows for the production of large quantities of counterfeit currency.

To combat this growing threat, we can all play a role by familiarizing ourselves with our currency. By working in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, and with the cooperation of the public, the United States Secret Service aims to reduce and gain control over this crime. Together, we can safeguard the integrity of our currency.


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