Counterfeiting Law and Legal Definition

On July 5, 1865, the Secret Service was created within the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the sole purpose of dealing with counterfeit currency. The Secret Service has exclusive jurisdiction for investigations involving the counterfeiting of United States obligations and securities, including U.S. currency and coins; U.S. Treasury checks; Department of Agriculture food coupons and U.S. postage stamps. Advanced copying technologies have helped raise the incidence of conterfeiting. Ink jet printers, color copiers, and scanners are just a few tools criminals use to create bogus bills.

Manufacturing counterfeit United States currency or altering genuine currency to increase its value is a violation of Title 18, Section 471 of the United States Code and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, or 15 years imprisonment, or both.

Possession of counterfeit United States obligations with fraudulent intent is a violation of Title 18, Section 472 of the United States Code and is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, or 15 years imprisonment, or both.

Anyone who manufactures a counterfeit U.S. coin in any denomination above five cents is subject to the same penalties as all other counterfeiters. Anyone who alters a genuine coin to increase its numismatic value is in violation of Title 18, Section 331 of the United States Code, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.

Forging, altering, or trafficking in United States Government checks, bonds, or other obligations is a violation of Title 18, Section 510 of the United States Code and is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, or ten years imprisonment, or both.

Printed reproductions, including photographs of paper currency, checks, bonds, postage stamps, revenue stamps, and securities of the United States and foreign governments (except under the conditions previously listed) are violations of Title 18, Section 474 of the United States Code. Violations are punishable by fines of up to $5,000, or 15 years imprisonment, or both.