Counterfeiting the new US $100 bills

It’s been about 3 months since they introduced the new $100 bill. In the past, introductions of new bills has been followed almost immediately by counterfeits. But this new bill has a “3-D Security Ribbon” in the middle that’s more-or-less a hologram. It really grabs your eyes when you even casually glance at one. It’s not something you could reproduce on an ordinary printer and probably not even an extraordinary printer.

So have there been any reports of counterfeits of these new bills? If so, have they been at all realistic?

I had this conversation with some people at the bank. We all admired the extraordinary difficulty of counterfeiting the new $100 bill. Good luck! Your best bet to get your hands on one is to get a straight job.

How soon until other bills are like this?

If you try photocopying the new bill, the copier’s chip recognizes it’s a bill and stops mid-copy.

With the previous bill and a good copier, the copies came out looking very real. And you didn’t have to wait for them to dry before using, too.

Maybe a stupid question, but why would you attempt to counterfeit one of the nee bills? Why not just copy a bill from 1983, they’re still legal tender and don’t have the security features. I could see that trying to pass off a large amount of these at one time would seem odd, but spending them one or two at s time wouldn’t cause a second look. So, why not just make copies of older bills that are still in circulation?

In general, an older bill is going to get more scrutiny; it immediately grabs the clerk’s attention because they don’t see them very often, it may result in a manager being flagged down to verify it, etc., all of which are things the would-be counterfeiter doesn’t want to have to deal with while passing a hot bill.

You don’t want to go that far back, since the $100 changed a couple times between then and now, not counting the most recent release. But the US has never demonetized any of its money, so they could continue to conterfeit the 1996-2013 bills. Those will be in circulation for several years.

I do wonder if the Federal Reserve actively removes previous-release-bills from circulation even if they aren’t worn out. They probably don’t, since it would cost them something, but it would accelerate the changeover to the new bills.

How would an old copier recognize a new bill ? And then, if it could do so, why then wouldn’t it also recognize an old bill ?

No it only makes sense that copiers older than this note may copy the new note ! BUT, the features of the new note do defy simple copying don’t they?

Possibly because the new $100s are the first of that denomination to include the EURion constellation.

They do remove - I forget the date cutoff, but there is one. II read it in something like “fitness standards” or the like.

The 1996 bills still have some anti-counterfeit features. As do pre 1991 bills (red & blue threads), but 1991 is where it starts to get difficult. To the best of my knowledge - anyone half way intelligent AND. trained could detect visually any counterfeit ever made that attempts to emulate 1991 or later - and without a doubt 1996 or later.

There are very few things that have leaked out about the supposedly impossible to detect super notes (one of which is it was first noticed by a bank teller in the Philippines). This being the case leads me to believe the are not using perfect paper for this - and I’ve never seen any proof that someone has managed to properly counterfeit a security strip. I know people have printed them, but it doesn’t take much training to defeat that.

There aren’t that many pre 1996 much less 1991 bills floating around. They attract attention when seen - as they are not seen that often. They still are around of course, but it attracts attention.

Moderator Note

There’s a little too much “how to” information being posted to this thread. Just a reminder:

Posting details like using bills before a certain date, etc. can be construed as encouraging these activities, so let’s dial it back a bit with the “how to” type of stuff and focus a bit more on the other aspects of this topic. If you aren’t sure whether your post is appropriate or not, ask yourself if the information would be of practical use to a counterfeiter (even an amateur one). If the answer is yes, then you probably shouldn’t post it.

No warnings issued.

Not only will it not, but many cashiers are told that the older ones don’t have the strip in them and that their markers won’t work on bills before a certain date. At some stores they’ll flag down managers at some they won’t (say what you want about it, that’s the way it is). Someone passing off fake bills will know where to go.

What people are doing now is bleaching lower denomination bills and printing hundred dollar bills over them. Since they’re using the right paper, the maker works and since it has a strip, casually holding it up to the light checks out. Having said that, I make my cashiers not just look for a strip but actually read the number/words on it. If they have a hundred dollar bill on it, it has to say 100 on it (as opposed to, ya know, TWENTY).

But, like others said, and like I always say in these threads, why make the new bills? If the fake bills that I’ve been making for the last two years have been working fine, they’ll keep working fine.

My only guess is that they’re not as worried about the guy printing off 2 or 3 a week in his office. They’re worried about the guy printing a few thousand a day and selling them on the black market. Maybe if he’s flooding the market with fake bills he actually does need to worry about stepping up the new style.

ISTM that in order to make the new bills even stronger, they need to pull the old ones out of circulation and eventually make them worthless as currency so they don’t just get more scrutiny but they actually can’t be used at a store.

ETA, I didn’t see that warning, but just to be on the safe side I’ll point out that bleaching bills is no secret and the counterfeit markers not working before a certain date is written right on the marker itself (I can’t find a picture of that, but I think the date is 1959?).


As with modern bills, the scrutiny any bill receives will be contextual. A single ten dollar bill from 1985 is unlikely to grab a lot of attention. If you are reported to be spending thousands worth of World War 2 era money on big-ticket items, you are likely to get a visit from law enforcement where they will try to find evidence of wrongdoing, which would have to be more than just having and spending genuine old money.

Photo manipulation software has also had this capability for years. It will not work with images of US currency. I am uncertain what other currencies it also detects.

US currency is not made of paper. It’s made from new and recycled cloth (75 percent cotton, 25 percent linen), with the best coming from recycled bluejeans.

Is it illegal to scan a bill? I’m curious to try it to see what will happen. Was the algorithm (to detect currency) developed by the US Treasury?

It isn’t made of wood paper. It is made of cotton (or rag) paper. Paper can be made from a variety of sources.

No, it is not illegal to scan a bill.
It’s illegal to reproduce a full bill at actual scale. Bills can be reproduced bigger or smaller, and sections can be reproduced at full scale.

Here are the details.

The £50 note in the UK has had the Motion Thread feature for a while, there are counterfeits in circulation, but not as many as there were with the old £50 note