Counterfeit U.S. Currency Abroad:

Issues and U.S. Deterrence Efforts

GGD-96-11: Published: Feb 26, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on counterfeiting of U.S. currency abroad and U.S. efforts to deter these activities.

GAO found that: (1) counterfeit U.S. currency is used for economic gain and illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, arms sales, and terrorist activity; (2) there are several techniques used to counterfeit U.S currency, including photocopying, the raised note technique, computer assisted printing, bleaching and reprinting, and photomechanics; (3) the offset printing method offers the highest quality of counterfeit notes and can only be detected by experienced bank tellers; (4) it is difficult to determine the extent of counterfeiting abroad because of the lack of accurate counterfeit detection data and foreign officials reluctance to view counterfeiting as a serious problem; (5) of the $380 billion in U.S. currency circulated in fiscal year 1994, $208.7 million was counterfeit, which represented less than one one-thousandth of U.S. currency in circulation at that time; and (6) the U.S. government is involved in various counterfeit deterrence activities, including redesigning U.S. currency, increasing the presence of the Secret Service and the exchange of information abroad, and seizing the production and distribution capabilities used in counterfeiting of U.S. currency.

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