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manufacturing spurious coins, paper money, or evidences of governmental obligation (e.g., bonds) in the semblance of the true. There must be sufficient resemblance to the genuine article to deceive a person using ordinary caution. The offense may be regarded as a special variety of forgeryforgery,
in criminal law, willful fabrication or alteration of a written document with the intent to injure the interests of another in a fraudulent manner. The crime may be committed even though the fraudulent scheme fails. The forgery of government obligations—e.g.
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The crime affects property but was historically considered to be an interference with the administration of government. Hence, under an early English statute (1350), counterfeiting the king's seal or his gold and silver coinage was a grave crime against the state amounting to high treasontreason,
legal term for various acts of disloyalty. The English law, first clearly stated in the Statute of Treasons (1350), originally distinguished high treason from petit (or petty) treason. Petit treason was the murder of one's lawful superior, e.g.
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 and was punishable by death. The statute left unchanged the common-law misdemeanors of counterfeiting copper coinage and passing counterfeit foreign currency. Other early statutes were directed against debasing the coinage by clipping or filing off the edges to sell the metal. By the 19th cent. counterfeiting was considered a felony rather than a form of treason.

The U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to "provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States." Under that power, statutes have been enacted making criminal the counterfeiting of the currency and bonds of the United States, of the evidences of indebtedness (e.g., checks) of the Federal Reserve System, of postage stamps, and of foreign money used for exchange. Under its powers to define and punish offenses of international law and its powers to control interstate and foreign commerce, Congress has passed legislation against the counterfeiting of foreign money and securities within the United States. Nearly every state now has statutes against counterfeiting. Since its establishment in 1865 the U.S. Secret Service has been the primary agency in the combating of counterfeiters in the United States.

To commit the crime of counterfeiting one does not necessarily have to make a whole coin or bill. It may be accomplished by plating coins, by raising the amount of a bill, or by any other alteration calculated to deceive the recipients. To retain counterfeit money or government obligations knowingly is also a criminal offense, regardless of how possession was acquired. The knowing utterance (passing) of counterfeit currency or securities is also criminal.

For the further protection of the currency and of postage stamps, statutes forbid making certain types of photographs (e.g., in color) where there would be danger of deception. In the 1990s, counterfeiters began to create high-quality color prints of paper currency using computer scanning and imaging. The U.S. government and those of other nations responded by redesigning denominations of bills. U.S. bills issued since 1996 include microscopic printing, watermarks, and other security features.


See S. Mihm, A Nation of Counterfeiters (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the illegal copying of coins, currency, or state securities for the purpose of circulation; also, the sale of such objects as a form of business. The legal codes of all countries treat counterfeiting as a crime.

According to Soviet criminal law, counterfeiting is defined as the making (for the purpose of passing) or the passing of counterfeit state treasury notes, notes of the State Bank of the USSR (paper bills with face values of 1, 3, 5,10, 25, 50, and 100 rubles), coins, state securities, or foreign currency. Counterfeiting also includes the alteration of legitimate currency or securities by changing the face value or the serial number. Counterfeiting is punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term from three to 15 years with confiscation of property and with or without additional exile for a term from two to five years. If the crime is committed as a form of business, it is punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term from ten to 15 years with confiscation of property and with or without additional exile for a term from two to five years, or by death with confiscation of property (art. 87 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR).

The battle against counterfeiting is also being waged on an international level. Thus, in 1929 the International Convention for the Suppression of Counterfeit Currency was ratified. In accordance with the convention, individuals who produce counterfeit currency, undermine the value of legitimate currency, sell counterfeit money, or manufacture equipment for the printing of counterfeit money are liable to criminal prosecution.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Simiyu Barasa, MombasaWe have arrested, charged and prosecuted and even argued for deportation of non-citizens implicated in counterfeiting.
Potter led the investigation that resulted in the arrest of the defendants and the dismantling of the counterfeiting ring.
The Royal Mint believes the new construction and design makes counterfeiting impossible.
Drug forms that come in novel delivery devices such as auto-injector pens, transdermal patches, etc., offer some inherent resistance to counterfeiting. But first-time users wouldn't know what to expect.
While counterfeit electrical products may be identified during compliance with this code, the sophistication of modern counterfeiting techniques can make it difficult to tell the difference between a counterfeit and an authentic product until after it fails while in use.
Addressing the occasion, founder trustee of Helpline Trust Hamid in his opening Remarks called for strict consumer protection law to combat counterfeiting and provide protection to industry as well as consumers.
With the negative impacts counterfeiting has had on public safety, national economies, and the integrity of business supply chains, it is not surprising that the FBI labeled counterfeiting: "The organized crime of the 21st century." As one executive points out: "Prior to the last year or two....
Despite counterfeiting being a widespread phenomenon, very few researchers have examined consumer behavior regarding counterfeit luxury goods (Hieke, 2010; Wilcox et al., 2009; Xiao & Nicholson, 2011), and their findings cannot be generalized to China without further investigation because Chinese consumers differ significantly from their foreign counterparts in their purchase habits (Zhan & He, 2012).
Over the past decade, counterfeiting in the electrical sector has become a growing global problem with multiple dimensions including intellectual property theft, loss of tax revenue to governments, consumer deception, threats to the health and safety of consumers and product liability litigation over defective counterfeit parts.
Drug counterfeiting is expected to increase in the future as pharma is expanding to emerging and developing market where this demand for pharmaceuticals products will increase the supply of counterfeit drugs in future.
Abstract: The counterfeiting of electronic components has become a major challenge in the 21st century.
"The level of punishment under the Anti Counterfeit Act of 2008 for counterfeiting is still low, investigation and prosecution processes take too long, while a common approach to combat counterfeit at regional level is yet to be realized.