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Money for nothing

The most commonly forged notes in circulation

IN APRIL 2009 the United States Secret Service, a government agency set up in 1865 to suppress currency counterfeiting, seized $8.4m worth of $100 bills in Peru. To confound the forgers the Treasury unveiled a redesigned $100 bill last month, the largest denominated note it currently issues, and the most faked outside its borders. The new note has additional security features such as a 3D security ribbon designed to make it easier to identify and harder to copy. But the notes most often removed from circulation by authorities are those with a face value of 20. These notes have the advantage of being frequently exchanged but having a high enough value to cover the costs of counterfeiting. The amount of counterfeit cash in circulation remains small. The GBP20 ($29) notes removed from circulation by the Bank of England in 2008 (whose highest-denominated note is GBP50) amounted to just 0.05% of circulation or 514 fakes for every million genuine notes.

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