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CurtC
07-29-2000, 12:15 AM
I had heard at one time that color copiers had some kind of feature that would cause them not to make copies of paper currency. I didn't have easy access to a color copier at the time, but it sounded like BS, so I just filed that tidbit away.

Recently our office got a new Xerox color copier, and there's a friend of mine (his name is Joey Jojo Junior Shabado, for the Simpsons-literate among you) who tried it, of course only in search of scientific knowledge. He copied an older-style one dollar bill and a ten dollar bill with no problems. But when he tried to copy two of the new-design bills (a five and a twenty), the copier refused! Its display put up an icon of a bill with a 100 on it, and a diagonal line across it, and a message something like "Copy prohibited." He even placed the new twenty above and below the other bills to try to fool it, but it still refused to copy a new bill.

So how do they do this? Is there a certain color that they're looking for, or does it have the image of each bill stored in memory? This would be hard to do, since it would need to recognize bills at different orientations, states of being discolored, etc. Plus, the copier is at least a couple of months old, and and it already refused to copy a new five, which I saw for the first time just a week or so ago.

tcburnett
07-29-2000, 12:56 AM
That's one of the reasons they came out with new bills. So your friend can't muck about with the new technology copiers and cheat the IRS out of their just desserts. Take a new bill and see if the copier will copy it if you cover up the vertical anti-copy device embedded in it.

labdude
07-29-2000, 01:02 AM
IIRC

I don't think there is a "vertical anti-copy device" in the bill. All newer copiers are required to have an anti money copying computer chip in the printer or copier. The computer chip knows what the money looks like. This has been the law since cannon released a cheap color copier or printer that would make almost perfect copies of US money. Many people found out that this printer would copy money and were using it to do just that. This was big news in the computer industry a few years ago.

Robot Arm
07-29-2000, 01:29 AM
Damn good question.

Try putting a blank piece of paper on the copier glass, then put one of the new bills on top of that. If the copier still detects it's a banknote even without being able to scan it, then it must be picking up on something in the paper. You could also try folding the bill in half, to see if you can just copy parts of it. If the detector is optically based, you can find out how much of the image is required to trigger it.

matt_mcl
07-29-2000, 04:10 AM
The colour copier in the university copy shop where I used to work refused to copy currency from several different countries, passports, and even postage stamps (which was a major hassle when the copy guru wanted to copy philately magazines). Don't ask me how it knew.

Lux Fiat
07-29-2000, 04:19 AM
Don't ask me how it knew.
It didn't necessarily know. It's just that with copy machines, the universal truism holds: philately will get you nowhere.

matt_mcl
07-29-2000, 04:44 AM
*throws toner cartridge at Lux*

Danielinthewolvesden
07-29-2000, 06:23 AM
Don't screw with it. It is seriously against the Law. Federal law, big time prison. It is illegal even if done just for 'fun" or for "experimentation".

How sure are you that your were not videotaped doing it? That was a big 9+ on the stupid scale.

tcburnett
07-29-2000, 06:28 AM
Originally posted by Danielinthewolvesden
Don't screw with it. It is seriously against the Law. Federal law, big time prison. It is illegal even if done just for 'fun" or for "experimentation".

How sure are you that your were not videotaped doing it? That was a big 9+ on the stupid scale.

I'd like to read that law if you don't mind. I have no doubt that you are correct, but I can't seem to find it myself. If you could just help me out please?

Danielinthewolvesden
07-29-2000, 06:37 AM
tc, it is called 'counterfeiting", and you can use a search engine for US Code, and "counterfeiting" or "currency". I'll look it up tomorrow at work, tho. "Intent" is important, but still you can get sent up even if you did not "pass" and claim you never intended to. However, if you make a copy in such a way that it is claerly a copy (ie. way bigger or smaller), then it is OK.

In any case, risking even just a Federal arrest, for just screwing around, is real stupid. I am sure you could be fired, also.

Trust me on this one, OK?

Danielinthewolvesden
07-29-2000, 06:58 AM
It is Title 18 Us Code, but it is not under "counterfeiting", as that has "intent", but there is another section (at least one) which forbids "keeping" such copies- true the Penalty is only 1 year, instead of the 15 or so for actual counterfieting, but that is enuf to keep me from screwing around.

tcburnett
07-29-2000, 07:00 AM
Originally posted by Danielinthewolvesden
tc, it is called 'counterfeiting", and you can use a search engine for US Code, and "counterfeiting" or "currency

I have a good idea what it is called, thanks. And I have a pretty fair idea that it is covered in Title 18 of the United States Code. The sections specific to paper currency are Sections 471 thru 474, but are by no means all of the regulations.

Oh...and to help answer the original OP:

http://www.bep.treas.gov/currency/20features.cfm

"Federal Reserve Indicators. A new seal represents the entire Federal Reserve System. The letter and number under the left serial number identify the issuing Federal Reserve Bank.
A larger, off-center portrait allows room for a watermark.
Security Thread.

A vertically embedded thread at the far left of the portrait indicates the $20 denomination. The words “USA TWENTY” and a flag can be seen from both sides against a light. The number “20” appears in the star field of the flag. The thread glows green under an ultraviolet light.

Watermark. A watermark identical to the portrait is visible from both sides against a light.
Color-Shifting Ink. The number in the lower right corner on the front of the note looks green when viewed straight on, but black at an angle.
Serial Numbers. An additional letter is added to the serial number.
Low-Vision Feature. The large numeral on the back of the $20 note is easy to read.
Fine Line Printing. Patterns The fine lines printed behind the portrait and building are difficult to replicate.
Microprinting. “The United States of America” is on the lower edge ornamentation of the oval framing the portrait. On the front of the note, “USA 20“ is repeated within the number in the lower left corner.

London_Calling
07-29-2000, 07:23 AM
Originally posted by matt_mcl
The colour copier in the university copy shop where I used to work refused to copy currency from several different countries, passports, and even postage stamps (which was a major hassle when the copy guru wanted to copy philately magazines). Don't ask me how it knew.

So TC's probably pinned down why photocopiers won't accept dollar bills and I can see how that might work for different country’s given that most have their currency printed by a few world orientated specialist printers (all with the tech built in) but what about Matt's postage stamps.

Do stamps fall within the legal definition of counterfeiting ? and I don’t see all the characteristics of the cash money around the little lickable picture of the Queen – how would the copier deal with stamps ?

tcburnett
07-29-2000, 07:40 AM
Originally posted by Danielinthewolvesden
It is Title 18 Us Code, but it is not under "counterfeiting", as that has "intent", but there is another section (at least one) which forbids "keeping" such copies- true the Penalty is only 1 year, instead of the 15 or so for actual counterfieting, but that is enuf to keep me from screwing around.

Yes, but what I was wondering about was:

------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Danielinthewolvesden
Don't screw with it. It is seriously against the Law. Federal law, big time prison. It is illegal even if done just for 'fun" or for "experimentation".

How sure are you that your were not videotaped doing it? That was a big 9+ on the stupid scale.
------------------------------------------------------------

See, if they didn't 'keep' it and had no intent to commit a crime with it? But never mind. I am picking nits, ungraciously, while you are trying to be helpful. I apologize. No hard feelings?

retsin2000
07-29-2000, 09:38 AM
Warning: Potential conspiracy theory BS below.

Ok, so I was with a friend the other day and he took out one of the new fives and removed the security thread. He said something to the effect that the government is using them to count how much money you have when you go through airports. I assume he meant the metal detectors. I am quite sure that he was kidding as he is not really into conspiracy theories and hasn't said anything about black helicopters chasing him or anything. He probably read something on a.f.c.a.

But, this discussion thread started me wondering. If a copier won't copy the bills even if they are on top of a piece of paper then it can't be detecting it with optical recognition but must be sensing something else like the thread. So, if that is the case wouldn't it be possible to detect money in envelopes or even pockets?

I think that the thread just glows bright enough that it can be seen even when it is on top of other paper and the copier is sensing that particular wavelength of light. This doesn't explain Matt's copier not copying pictures of stamps though.

I'd be interested to know if a color copier would copy a new bill with the thread removed and/or the thread itself.

handy
07-29-2000, 12:49 PM
I looked into this once & talked to the bank & Kinkos. Kinkos won't let you copy money. Next door is another NEW copy store & the guy said sure, you can copy money. I was just asking.

You can copy one side of a bill, not both, also, you can copy both sides as long as its more than 50% larger or smaller that a regular one. That's why you see huge $1000 notes for scratchpaper.

Saint Zero
07-29-2000, 01:47 PM
I know, that at least a year or two ago, you could scan and print copies of the bill of your choice. That was with the new $20's, too.

labdude
07-29-2000, 11:05 PM
CurtC,

I still say its not the thread in the bill that prevents copying. So get a 20 and pull out the thread and try to copy it at your new copy machine. A small tear in the bill above the thread will allow you to easily pull it out.

techchick68
07-29-2000, 11:16 PM
That's weird (refering to the OP) because just recently there have been a number of the new $20 bills floating around our city.

Usually they have been passed on to unsuspecting fast food workers that are too busy to stop and verify the validity of the bill.

It is possible though.

Wood Thrush
07-30-2000, 01:31 AM
Originally posted by labdude
CurtC,

I still say its not the thread in the bill that prevents copying. So get a 20 and pull out the thread and try to copy it at your new copy machine. A small tear in the bill above the thread will allow you to easily pull it out.



Yes. Add defacing currency to your list of crimes.

dtilque
07-30-2000, 01:37 AM
Originally posted by retsin2000
Ok, so I was with a friend the other day and he took out one of the new fives and removed the security thread. He said something to the effect that the government is using them to count how much money you have when you go through airports. I assume he meant the metal detectors.
I believe Cecil covered this in a column. I'd give a link but the search engine is having problems.

Anyway, Cecil claims that the security thread is just ordinary polyester (or something similar) and does not respond to electronic or magnetic signals. Not only that, they aren't a new feature. They've been in all notes except for $1 and $2 since the early 80s, long before the redesigned bills were introduced.

Homer
07-30-2000, 03:13 AM
::computer altered face and deepend voice:: I've photocopied money. At work (Best Buy) we sell a HP G55, which has 1200x2400 scan, and PhotoRetIII print. Basically, a high quality machine. It allows you to copy all the bills. It doesn't seem to care. It does a damned good job.

DISCLAIMER: I did not and would not copy money with the intent to pass it as real. We were copying one side and folding it in half so it looked real, then dropping it on the ground. We wrote "Ha-Ha" on the inside, and turned out PC Cameras on the bills to watch the people who picked it up, and their reactions.

--Tim

Danielinthewolvesden
07-30-2000, 03:48 AM
Even without the intent to "pass' you could be held guilty of the lesser crime of "making" or "holding". Sure, that is ONLY one year in the Pen, instead of 15. Don't do any of this folks, not for a joke, or to see if it can be done or for any reason at all. The US Secret Service has NO sense of humor at all, and even if you're not convicted, even being arrested means thousands of $ in bail and legal fees, and you KNOW your boss is gonna fire your ass for 'improper usage of company equipt".

Besides which, a lot of companies these days are videotaping the copy room, and right there on the copier is record of when you tried to do your 'copy" "just for fun", which is easily matched up with the time on the tape. Grounds for firing, WITH "cause".

light strand
07-30-2000, 01:11 PM
You might want to mention your shennigans to your boss as a preemptive strike.

My S.O. is working on an anti-counterfeiting project with his company. He contacted the IKON company to find out how this system works. They weren't terribly interested about giving away proprietary info, but they did tell him that if counterfeiting is attempted, their copiers will record the information and when serviced the tech is obligated to report the violation.

My intention is not to freak you out, but to let you know that this is a possibility.

You can probably call your copier company to find out if this is true.

johnson
07-30-2000, 06:31 PM
Our admin guy was explaining to several of us the other day that our new copy machines will shut down if someone attempts to copy currency. Maybe after the third attempt, or something like that, but I don't think I'll try it once.

dtilque
07-31-2000, 12:44 AM
Here's (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_030.html) Cecil's column on this topic. It was written 6 years ago, but he does mention copiers being modified to not copy dollar bills.

Shaky Jake
07-31-2000, 10:29 AM
Slightly OT, but fascinating nonetheless, is the story of J.S.G. Boggs. He is an artist who draws money, and then attempts to spend it for it's face value. He usually makes artistic alterations to the "bills", and does not try to pass them off as authentic. He is exploring the nature of money and the value of art. Essentially, what he is doing is bartering - trading a drawing of a (Boggs) fifty dollar bill for fifty dollars worth of goods/services. Although he makes no attempt to pass off his art as real money, he has still run afoul of both the British govt. and the U.S. Secret Service. A few links for those interested, the first to a review of short, highly entertaining book about Boggs and his adventures.

the book: http://www.prospect.org/archives/V11-2/galbraith.html

an article on counterfitting and the first amendment: http://www.law.indiana.edu/ilj/v71/no1/stapel.html

His website: http://www.jsgboggs.com/



Likely more links than anyone cares for, but it's a intriguing story, and I am one who is decidedly not into performance art.

Shaky Jake

Robot Arm
07-31-2000, 01:49 PM
I went a Boggs performance several months ago. Over the course of an hour, he put together and dismantled a work of art. All the while talking about how much it might be worth and whom it really belonged to (he recruited some people from the audience to be part of it). He gave me his camera to take a picture of it, and asked who would hold the rights to that picture. Interesting stuff.

DavisMcDavis
07-31-2000, 02:15 PM
Originally posted by retsin2000
Warning: Potential conspiracy theory BS below.

Ok, so I was with a friend the other day and he took out one of the new fives and removed the security thread. He said something to the effect that the government is using them to count how much money you have when you go through airports. I assume he meant the metal detectors. I am quite sure that he was kidding as he is not really into conspiracy theories and hasn't said anything about black helicopters chasing him or anything. He probably read something on a.f.c.a.



My first encounter with those strips was when my wacked-out conspiracy-theory uncle was pulling them out at some family wedding reception and telling people that the government had little scanner things that could detect them so they could drive by your house and tell how much money you had. I guess that was a concern for people who keep their money in paper currency under the mattress.

orestes543
07-31-2000, 02:35 PM
I've heard that with these new bills, anybody could tell how much you have on you, too. I'm not sure if any of it's true or not, but I certainly don't like the idea of anyone being able to tell how much money I'm carrying with me at any particular moment. I don't believe that's really anyone's business but my own and that's the way it should be.

Robot Arm
07-31-2000, 02:43 PM
Originally posted by orestes543
I've heard that with these new bills, anybody could tell how much you have on you, too...

If that were true, then you'd be able to tell how much money everyone else is carrying. But you can't so it isn't.

ren
07-31-2000, 06:45 PM
So, Danielinthewolvesden, just curious:

What sort of trouble could the Reader get into for hosting this discussion, which includes explicit directions on what equipment can successfully copy money?

jmullaney
07-31-2000, 06:45 PM
I work for a company that makes printer firmware -- and, indeed, people in dark suits do show up once in a while -- although I don't know why. All I can say is they don't come in helicopters.

As an aside, all the printers sold abroad to Iraq in the 80s have little homing beacons in them. This helped us target bombs during the war. Take that you Bagdad Kinkos you!

Rodd Hill
07-31-2000, 07:36 PM
London Calling asked the musical question:

Do stamps fall within the legal definition of counterfeiting ? and I don’t see all the characteristics of the cash money around the little lickable picture of the Queen – how would the copier deal with stamps ?

They seem to take it pretty seriously in Hong Kong (http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/199811/30/1130pste.htm).

A Canadian satirical magazine called FRANK (http://www.frankmag.net/) created a series of spurious Canadian stamps in 1993 as a prank on Canada Post.

"Issues" included a dope-smoking Prime Minister (Kim Campbell at the time), the Ben Johnson Freestyle Doping stamp, and stamps celebrating Quebec cultural icons like Mitsou, Youppi, and poutine. Nearly all got through the system (despite not being phosphor-tagged). Glen McGregor, the perp, added:

Each envelope contained a message about Canada Post's president: "Don Lander is a schnook." (If I was charged with forgery, I wanted this piece of physical evidence read into the court record.)

A booklet and sample set of 50 or so stamps was published as "Insufficient Postage" in 1995.

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