Counterfeit Money Smell Different From Real Money

Funny Money Going to the Dogs

The advancement of digital technology, with computer scanning capability and high-resolution printers, has made the production of large quantities of a counterfeit currency relative to child’s play. Virtually anyone anywhere in the world can do it in a very short time. But counterfeiting is one of the oldest crimes in history. The United States Secret Service was established back in the 19th century at the end of the American Civil War as a remedy to the fact that one-third to one-half of all the currency flooding the nation’s market was fake.

Dog sniffing counterfeit money

Today in the 21st century, the Secret Service’s role has expanded to include aggressively pursuing American money counterfeiters and traffickers internationally. The crime of currency counterfeiting is once again on the rise and poses a potentially serious threat not only to the nation’s economy but the world economy as well. Fortunately, the Secret Service has developed a new super-powerful weapon against bogus bill manufacturers: the sense of smell.

Well, perhaps it’s safer to say that weapon really isn’t all that new; in fact, it’s long overlooked but now newly appreciated. And most people (i.e., human beings) can’t really sniff out forgeries, but it should be no surprise to anyone that dogs can.

A report released jointly by the U.S. Secret Service, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve Board revealed that Colombia is one of the leading countries in the production of U.S. “funny money” and is responsible for about 15 percent of all circulating fake currency throughout the world. In fact, since 1998, the Secret Service and Colombian authorities have seized more than $150 million in forged bills and taken down operations that could have produced billions more.

They had the help of “Mike,” the first canine trained in the sniffing out and detection of counterfeit currency. Just as working dogs have been trained to smell a variety of items such as explosives, agricultural products, missing people – even cancer – there has been a great success in teaching Mike and his canine colleagues to detect many of the most commonly produced counterfeit U.S. notes. With funding from the Secret Service, Colombian authorities established a counterfeit detection canine program where teams of a dog and its handler underwent a 12-week training program. Since that time, the Secret Service has used canine detectives in the U.S. and throughout the world to combat the dishonest dollar.

If you don’t have your own super sleuth-sniffer, or to find out about other anti-counterfeiting features, cool new U.S. currency designs, and fun money facts, visit the website of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Or see the web page of the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for more information on fighting other financial crimes, including terrorism financing and money laundering. For more information on U.S. policy, see Terrorist Financing. Also, check out the handy and informative website from the U.S. Secret Service with sections called How To Detect Counterfeit Money and Know Your Money to offer advice on how to guard against forgery losses.

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