Food Stamps, Travellers Checks and Casino chips..............

A question about counterfeiting other forms of “cash” and the punishment thereof.

A food stamp is the same document to a merchant as cash, although food stamps have restrictions on what can be bought. I have not seen them in a long time, but they seem to be real easy to duplicate and sell on the “balck market” for 50% of face value.

The same with traveller’s checks. Traveller’s checks are worth the same as real money, spend like real money, but not real money. So, why print phoney “real money” when I can print up travellers checks?

The last thing of value, that I feel would be easy to copy are casino chips (or cheques) in the trade. They are merely round clay pieces of different colors with the casino’s name and denomination in a chip. There are little paint lines on the side, but that seems easy to paint over. Make a bunch of $25 and $100 fakies and go out on the town. Still, the fraud is the same crime, but would be a lesser beef than counterfieting.

Food Stamps, Travellers Checks, Casino Chips, easy copies?


Of course all carry severe criminal and possibly civil penalties so you would never do any such thing…

Food stamps for any amount over $1 are invalid if not detached from the book in sight of the cashier. So unless you actually went to the added trouble of duplicating the covers and replicating the books (or had the assistance of an unscrupulous clerk) it would be hard to duplicate anything over $1 denominations. Also, in many locales paper food stamps are a thing of the past, phased out in favor of debit-type cards. No paper stamps, no illegal duplication. The common “fraud” (which I don’t know is really fraud) is for a food stamp recipient to buy someone else’s food on his/her card then get the cash from that person.

Someone already asked about casino chips:

Before bank cards and ATMs were common, I was doing a lot of international travel, and I used a lot of traveller’s cheques. Got quite familiar with what they looked like and how they were used.

Anyway, it’s a WAG, but I’d guess that they’re just as difficult to counterfeit as real money. They aren’t just printed, they’re engraved (the same as real money); and the designs and colours and pictures would be just as difficult to replicate.

Add to that the fact that when cashing them, the cashier usually wanted to see some other form of ID, and would note my passport number right on the cheque (I was overseas and they usually wanted to see my passport, but I guess a driver’s licence might have worked too). If I was a counterfeiter, I wouldn’t want my passport number on the phony cheques I was trying to pass.

Given all this, it would probably be easier to counterfeit real money. At least when you use it, they typically don’t ask for ID.

There’s one anti-counterfeiting measure WRT casino chips that isn’t mentioned in the other thread. Many of the higher-denomination chips have a printed pattern that can only be seen under ultraviolet light. If you cash one in, the cashier will check for the pattern under the light.

This, obviously, is not something you can just knock together in your basement.

Casino chips, at least the ones I saw most recently, are spohisticated pieces of plastic molding. You’d need a decent setup to replicate each casino’s exact molds and plastic colors–not to mention the labels and UV stuff they apply later–and even then, I think they change the chip designs they use pretty often.

As for traveler’s cheques, well, they really kind of ARE money, just backed by AMEX (or whoever) instead of by a government. And this seems like a really stupid idea, since each cheque has a serial number that is registered with the issuing company and presumably tracked when it is redeemed. And the redeemer doesn’t just anonymously hand them over (like cash), he has to sign them, too, right in front of the cashier (and, presumably, the signature will be matched vs. photo ID). So it seems to me you’re leaving an enormous paper trail for investigators to find you immediately.

Travelers checks are used only once, and therefore are most always seen by the clerks in new condition. The engraved lines are crisp and raised. The feel of the paper and ink is very distictive. Someone who handles these even fairly occasionally would be likely to notice a fake.

I tend to disagree with the statements regarding Traveler’s Checks. Oh no doubt they are accurate. But the clerks I have seen and those I’ve worked with are very ignorant of Traveler’s Checks. They don’t check them well.

I remember one lady was signing in both places on the check. I refused to take it. I told her I don’t even know how she got out of the bank without signing the top line. Then she was like, so if I had signed them in the car than counter-signed them you would have taken them. I told her yes.

But I was the only one that ever scrutanized checks. When I used to do deposits it was not uncommon for me to call guests (I worked in hotels) to get them to counter-sign. Clerks just were careless about it.

In regards to Travelers Checks, the evidence of your fraud is going to get noticed the next day when the retailer tries to deposit it and Amex (or whoever you use) won’t accept it. With printed currency, the retailer is fairly likely to have given it out as change to some other customer, thus increasing the possibility of your crime not being noticed.