How to Spot the Counterfeit Money Scam

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Tips from David Lerner Associates on how to spot and avoid the counterfeit money scam and tell the difference between real and fake bills.

Tips from David Lerner Associates on how to spot and avoid the counterfeit money scam and tell the difference between real and fake bills.

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  • 1. How to spot the COUNTERFEIT MONEY SCAM
  • 2. Fake Money Can Look Very Real Advances in printing and computer technology have made it easier than ever for thieves to scam the public with fake money that, on a quick glance, looks very real. As a result, the federal government has undertaken efforts to help educate citizens about how they can protect themselves from this scam and tell the difference between real and counterfeit bills.
  • 3. Color Variations The new $100 bill that went into circulation in October 2013 has a more high-tech look and feel and incorporates new security features designed to make it harder for crooks to print counterfeit bills and get away with the scam. These include colorshifting ink that is very hard to duplicate — when the bill is tilted, for example, the Liberty Bell will shift color to copper from green.
  • 4. Paper Stock The quality and type of paper used in printing currency is probably the hardest thing for the scammers to reproduce. Minute red and blue fibers are embedded in the paper of real currency. While counterfeiters can print ink marks on their paper that look like fibers — or even try to embed dyed hair into fake bills — this can usually be spotted upon close inspection
  • 5. Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals These are clear and sharp on real bills, but often fuzzy and uneven on counterfeit bills. Also, the colors of the Treasury Seal and serial number should match — this is a mistake counterfeiters sometimes make.
  • 6. Serial Numbers You can identify scam bills by looking carefully at the serial numbers. They should be uniformly aligned and spaced. Also, counterfeiters often do not go to the trouble of changing serial numbers, since they are usually printing thousands of bills at a time.
  • 7. Portraits Does the coloring of the portrait of the person who is represented on the bill stand out from the bill’s background? Or does it blend in with the rest of the bill, or does it look flat and lifeless? Though computer and printing technology have advanced greatly, most thieves still can’t duplicate the printing methods used for printing the portraits on genuine bills.
  • 8. Borders and Edges On real currency, the outside borders and edges of the bill are clear and unbroken, but they’re often blurry or fuzzy on counterfeit bills. Also, the border ink sometimes bleeds off the edge of the bill on counterfeits, but this never happens on legitimate bills.
  • 9. The Watermark Recreating the watermark — the shadow of the President’s portrait that you see when you hold a bill up to the light — is another difficult thing for counterfeiters to do, so they often don’t try. If a bill is missing the watermark, this is one of the surest signs that it’s part of a counterfeit scam.
  • 10. • • Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investment offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. Member FINRA & SIPC.