It's Surprisingly Easy to Print Fake Money on an Inkjet Printer

If you're running an international counterfeiting ring, then yes, you're gonna need some expensive equipment. But for the small-time counterfeiter about town, it's all too easy. Just grab your everyday inkjet printer.

As Bloomberg News reports, 34-year-old hairstylist and janitor Tarshema Brice faked up to $20,000 in counterfeit bills.

First, the 34-year-old hairstylist and janitor took $5 bills with a specific watermark and soaked them with "Purple Power" degreaser. Next, she scrubbed off the ink with a toothbrush. After drying the now-blank notes with a hair dryer, she fed them through a Hewlett-Packard Co. 3-in-1 inkjet printer that emblazoned them with scanned images of $50 or $100 bills.

The phony bills can pass the pen test, which reacts with starch in paper, but obviously can't stand much further scrutiny. (Hundred dollar bills are also printed with a 3D security ribbon and an ink that changes color in the light.) Brice is hardly the first to use degreaser and an inkjet printer to make fake money. A crime ring in Florida was busted just last year for doing the same.

Low-tech counterfeiting clearly won't get you far, but desktop printing technology has certainly made the crime within the reach of small-time counterfeiters. The U.S. Treasury, of course, is just as willing to fight back with technology. Laser printers print a unique, identifying pattern of yellow dots. And some versions of Photoshop won't let you edit images of money.

That leaves you with dinky little inkjet printers. Your bills won't look that great. You're never going to get rich on it. And hey, in case you forgot, you're still breaking the law. [Bloomberg, Tampa Bay Times]

Top image: Svetlana Lukienko/Shutterstock