Watch: Can You Spot the Funny Money?

It's getting easier for counterfeiters to ply their illegal trade.

The same advances in printing that have benefited ordinary consumers have also proved to be a boon for counterfeiters. A growing supply of bogus bills are an occupational risk for businesses that deal with a lot of tens and twenties. Think liquor stores and bars. 

Recently, batches of counterfeit cash and the tools to make it have turned up in Benicia and Pinole. According to an article this month in the New York Times about an Atlanta ring of counterfeiters, the Secret Service seized $81 million in counterfeit money during the fiscal year that ended in October. During the same period, the agency, which was formed to foil counterfeiters in 1865, arrested 2,424 people. 

On Tuesday, I borrowed two counterfeit $20 bills from a bar owner in Oakland (who keeps them as reminders not to let his guard down) and went to the Albany Coin Exchange to see if I could trick the experts with my funny money (Watch the video). 

Want to learn to detect counterfeit money like the pros? The Secret Service has these tips

Carter-NBerkeley January 12, 2013 at 03:50 AM
A $10 fake was passed to me in Dec. Didn't realize it until a clerk pointed it out. It looked really good but was missing the hidden face near the right margin. On close inspection the overall cast was a bit too pink and the paper not quite cloth-like enough. Be careful getting change from purchases.


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