The Krebs on Security website discusses one of the latest items you can buy in the “darker corners of the web”. In addition to stolen credit cards, ID’s and other hot merchandise, you can now apparently buy counterfeit USD bills, using Bitcoin of course. Ironic, as Bitcoin’s very design makes counterfeiting impossible.
The author came a across a seller, “MrMouse”, advertising his bills under the banner of “Disney Dollars” and with high profile advertising in the Disney Market Place.
The seller claims that his bills will pass most merchant tests. His $100 has most sought security features, including microprinting, the watermark, pen test and security strip. His single-ply bills won’t pass in machines as they don’t have magnetic ink.
His clients say that his $20’s “feel a bit waxy”, but the $50’s and $100’s are good fakes.
Counterfeit bills generally sell at a 30-50% discount to their “face value”, with MrMouse taking a 45% fee on the sale.
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Jason Kersten, author of “The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter”, says that advertising such services on public forums will quickly garner the attention of authorities:
“The Secret Service does not have a sense of humor about this at all. They really don’t.”
With our rapid advances in technology, the fight against counterfeiting has struggled to keep pace. Each new security feature is eventually met by its match on artificial money. Authorities have had to resort to heavy deterrents- up to 20 years in prison plus penalties- in the absence of preventative measures to combat the practice. In theory, there is no end to the game of cat and mouse unless a different approach is taken.
Bitcoin and other cryptographically secured currencies, by definition, would alleviate this problem. When weighing the pros/cons of fiat vs crypto, this advantage is undeniable, save for the ability to double spend in the rare event of a 51% attack.
Another interesting fiat-based solution may be quantum money. Fiat bills are secured with “quantum bits”. Because quantum mechanics allows for more than one simultaneous state, an attempt at counterfeiting would render the copy in the wrong state, to be rejected by a central database upon inspection. Unfortunately, such technology remains mostly conceptual and little progress has been made.