27 Nov 23

How Making Fake Money With an Inkjet is a Federal Felony

| by

Last Updated on: 15th December 2023, 01:13 pm

How Making Fake Money With an Inkjet is a Federal Felony

We’ve all been short on cash at one time or another. And when you’re desperate, the idea of creating some “extra” money on your inkjet printer might seem like an easy solution. But counterfeiting currency is no small crime — it’s a federal felony that can land you in prison for up to 20 years! Let’s take a look at why you should think twice before attempting this.

It’s Illegal to Reproduce U.S. Currency

The U.S. Secret Service is in charge of dealing with crimes related to counterfeiting. Under Title 18, Section 471 of the United States Code, it’s illegal to reproduce U.S. paper currency in any way, shape or form without permission from the federal government. This includes scanning money and printing it from a regular old inkjet printer. So whether your goal is to spend the fake cash or just have some cool-looking prop money, making copies of real currency goes directly against federal law.

“Whoever, with intent to defraud, falsely makes, forges, counterfeits, or alters any obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

That’s right — simply possessing fake bills can land you up to 20 years in federal prison if the authorities determine you intended to use them fraudulently. And “intent” can be tough to prove one way or another if you get caught. So it’s best not to take the risk.

You Could Face Other Charges Too

In addition to counterfeiting charges, you may also face charges like fraud, forgery, or theft if you attempt to spend or distribute the fake cash. The Secret Service takes counterfeiting very seriously, and they aggressively investigate all cases. You could potentially face multiple criminal charges at both the state and federal level.

“A conviction on a federal counterfeiting charge can result in you facing anywhere from no jail time to 20 years in federal prison in addition to severe financial penalties, including fines and restitution.”

So you’re looking at possible decades behind bars plus huge fines and legal fees. That’s a pretty big risk for some homemade funny money!


The Bills Likely Won’t Fool Anyone

Unless you’ve invested in some highly specialized printing equipment, the counterfeit bills you create on a basic consumer inkjet printer won’t pass any serious inspection. Modern U.S. currency contains advanced anti-counterfeiting features like watermarks, security threads, color-shifting ink, and more. Fooling someone with a fake bill printed on plain paper is highly unlikely.

“The widespread use of color copiers and computer imaging makes the proliferation of counterfeit U.S. currency a continuing problem. However, many of the counterfeits produced are of poor quality and are easily detected by merchants and financial institutions.”

In other words, you probably won’t actually be able to successfully spend the fake dough. So you’re risking felony charges for nothing.

There Are Legal Alternatives

If you just want some prop money for movies, YouTube videos, or board games, there are ways to legally print fake cash without breaking the law. You can find novelty bills online that have obvious words like “For Motion Picture Use Only” or “Copy Money” printed on them. Or you can make your own prop money as long as you don’t try to replicate real currency.

“Private parties may legally print reproductions of U.S. currency, as long as the reproductions do not replicate genuine currency precisely. This allows movie studios, for example, to use prop money that resembles real currency without actually duplicating genuine currency.”

So feel free to get creative with your own funny money designs featuring images of your dog or favorite fictional character. Just don’t precisely copy the details of real bills, and you should be in the clear legally.

It Can Damage Your Printer

Finally, attempting to print fake bills may actually damage your poor printer. Inkjet printers aren’t designed to handle the type of paper and ink used for real money. Running real currency through your printer in an attempt to scan and replicate it can jam the machine and clog the ink cartridges. This could end up costing you the price of a new printer just for some useless fake cash. So it’s just not worth the hassle!

“Inkjet printers and cartridges are designed specifically for printing on plain paper with inkjet ink. Printing paper currency could damage the print heads and other components not designed for that type of paper.”

Damaging your equipment is another risk that this DIY counterfeiting plan entails. Given all the potential felonies and fines you’d face, it’s clearly not a good idea to start that inkjet money printer after all!

LEARN MORE  Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree: NY Tax Law 1805

The Bottom Line

Trying to produce fake currency at home is a seriously bad idea that can ruin your life. While it may seem like an easy solution when you’re strapped for cash, it will likely land you in federal prison. And it probably won’t even fool anyone in the first place. Not to mention you could end up damaging your printer. If you want prop money, make something original that doesn’t replicate real bills. But leave actual counterfeiting to the professionals…the Secret Service professionals who will catch and prosecute you! The bottom line is don’t do it. Get a side gig or odd job instead if you really need some extra income. The risk is so not worth the supposed reward.

So think twice before you fire up that inkjet to start printing fake money. It’s just not worth ending up as a felon over some flimsy photocopied bills! There are plenty of legal money-making methods out there. Do the smart thing and avoid the lure of counterfeiting. Your future self will thank you!