Famous Counterfeits

Some of the famous counterfeits in history have been committed by legitimate organizations, such as governments. These include:

1. During the American Revolutionary War, Great Britain produced fake bank notes to try to devalue the colonial currency. The United States did the same thing during the American Civil War by producing fake Confederate currency that was of lower quality than the real money.

2. In 1925, banknote printers in Britain were involved in counterfeiting scandal for printing Portuguese bank notes. This led to the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis, when the printed notes were equivalent to only 88% of the GDP, in response to a fraud committed by Alves dos Reis. He forged a contract with the Bank of Portugal so that he could produce counterfeit bank notes.

3. In 1926, Hungary came up with a counterfeiting scheme in order to come up with money to pay for its war debts. This scandal came to light when several people were arrested in the Netherlands attempting to pass off 1000-franc bills as real money.

4. During World War 11, Nazi concentration camps forced Jewish artists to create counterfeit British and American money. The quality of the work was so good that it was hard to distinguish between the counterfeit bills and the real money. All of the bills were not recovered until the 1950’s.

5. North Korea still makes counterfeit US money, which is called the superdollar. A lot of government work min North Korea receives its funding from this course.

Throughout history, there have been scandals involving ordinary citizens attempting to profit from counterfeiting. Mary Butterworth started her own cottage industry in colonial America in the early 1700’s by using dampened starched cloth to remove ink from the currency. Then she ironed this onto blank paper notes and colored in the patterns by hand.