Keywords: Counterfeit, currency
Abstract: The incidence of currency counterfeiting and the possible total stock of counterfeits in circulation
are popular topics of speculation and discussion in the press and are of substantial practical
interest to the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Secret Service. This paper assembles data from
Federal Reserve and U.S. Secret Service sources and presents a range of estimates for the number
of counterfeits in circulation. In addition, the paper presents figures on counterfeit passing
activity by denomination, location, and method of production. The paper has two main conclusions:
first, the stock of counterfeits in the world as a whole is likely on the order of 1 or fewer
per 10,000 in both piece and value terms; second, losses to the U.S. public from the most commonly
used note, the $20, are relatively small, and are miniscule when only counterfeit notes of reasonable
quality are considered.
Full paper (429 KB PDF)
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Last update: November 17, 2003