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Printers take skill out of counterfeiting

Nov. 6, 2010 at 5:14 PM

DETROIT, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Funny money is turning up in record amounts now that computers and high-tech printers have taken the skill out of counterfeiting, the U.S. Secret Service says.

The agency said that in 2009 more than 60 percent of counterfeit bills were created on digital printers. In 1995 only 1 percent were.

"There really is no craftsmanship or workmanship in this anymore," Special Agent Scott Vogel, a 20-year veteran, told the Detroit Free Press. "If you're able to put a piece of paper in a copy machine and push a button, that's pretty much all it takes."

In the old days, investigators could identify specific counterfeiters by their style, often long before they were detected. One of the most celebrated examples was "Old Mr. 880," a nickname that came from the file number and the length of time he escaped detection, who got away with making crude $1 bills for years because no one looked at them closely.

In 2009 the Secret Service removed $182 million in counterfeit bills from circulation. That was more than twice the $79 million discovered in the previous year.

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