Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jan 7, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Using or manufacturing counterfeit money is a violation of the United States Code and can be considered criminal fraud. If it is found that a person intentionally created or used counterfeit money to purchase goods in the United States, the penalties for using counterfeit money are fines up to $15,000 (or more in very significant cases) and 15 years in prison.

What constitutes intentional fraud?

Manufacturing or knowingly using counterfeit currency in the United States is a felony offense and is taken very seriously. The issue is addressed at a federal level and handled by the Secret Service (the government agencies were originally created for this very purpose).

If you are suspected of producing fake money, the Secret Service is likely to confiscate any materials or equipment thought to be used in the process, including computers, hard drives, printers, scanners, etc.

The reason the penalties can be so severe is that the creation and distribution of counterfeit money can have a detrimental impact on the whole of society.

Counterfeit bills can devalue real money, increase prices due to inflation, or increase prices of commodities. These are all consequences that can trickle down to every American and abroad.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What happens if you unintentionally use counterfeit money?

Using counterfeit money, even unknowingly, is illegal. But, a court will only charge someone with fraud if it is proven that the individual consciously tried to pass fake money off as real currency.

It is important to report any counterfeit bills that come into your possession to the police or your bank. Otherwise, you are keeping the bill in circulation, which can have a negative impact (as discussed above). Or you may end up losing the value of what you thought was your money. You will not be returned the value for purchases or when depositing into your bank or ATM.