When we think of currencies from a fraud perspective, our first thoughts may focus on counterfeiting and how rare it is to have suffered the misfortune of being handed a forged banknote, but in this age of advanced technology and high-speed color printers, counterfeit bills are not nearly as rare as they used to be. Current data suggests that nearly one percent of all bills in circulation are actually fakes, and, for this reason, governments across the globe are constantly changing the faces of our most favorite legal tender to incorporate the latest in anti-counterfeiting techniques.
One does not have to go abroad to view the latest trends in anti-counterfeiting techniques. Our new 100-Dollar bill, released this past October, is a testament to the wave of new features, designed specifically the thwart the forger and put his minions behind bars.
The banknote pictured above is definitely not Monopoly money, but it incorporates a number of features, both past and present, to ensure that counterfeiters will have a tougher row to hoe – here are few noteworthy ones:
- 3-D Security Ribbon: If you tilt the bill, pictures within the vertical blue ribbon will move or change. The holographic ribbon is woven into the fabric of the paper, not printed upon it;
- Bell in the Inkwell: Tilt the bill again, and the bell within the inkwell will change color from copper to green. The “100” to the right of the inkwell will also change in color, as well;
- Watermarks: If held up to the light, you can actually see Ben in the upper right corner, from both the front and rear side of the banknote;
- Security Thread: An embedded thread runs vertically to the left of Ben’s portrait. It incorporates “USA” and “100” within it and glows pink under ultraviolet light;
- Symbols of Freedom: Words from the Declaration of Independence and the quill used to sign it are pictured to the right of Ben;
- Portrait Modifications: Ben’s picture has been enlarged, and Independence Hall on the rear has been changed from previous versions;
- Micro-printing: Small printed words appear on Ben’s collar and on other carefully chosen areas;
- Federal Reserve Indicators and Serial Numbers: These coded imprints are unique for each bill and designate which branch issued the bill;
- Large Gold 100: A large gold 100 appears on the back of the bill and can be felt by the visually impaired to determine authenticity.
These types of features may vary by banknote denomination, depending on the perceived need and usefulness in detecting frauds quickly. Historically, the $100 bill is the favored target by counterfeiters outside of the United States, but within our borders, the crooks are more apt to make $20 forgeries. It may be difficult to believe, but experts have estimated that approximately one percent of our $1.15 trillion of currency in circulation is counterfeit.
What are other countries doing to combat currency counterfeiters?
The following graphic depicts the various paths that security measures are currently taking on a global basis:
It is interesting to note that the light-blue shading indicates nations that have chosen to use new polymer-based substitutes for paper when printing their various banknotes. These materials are said to last longer and tend to be more difficult to replicate. There are also exciting new innovations in the field of “bio-mimicry” where fluorescent colors can be made to shine, base on the placement of various “nano-sized” holes. The credit for this advancement must go to Mother Nature and evolution. Male peacocks and South American butterflies have employed these techniques for eons.
Will we soon see shimmering wings on Canadian banknotes, if the Loonie is wont to defeat the fraudsters. Only time will tell.