On March 29, 2012, the United States Secret Service arrested and charged a Washington, D.C. man as a felon in possession of a firearm after he attempted to trade counterfeit cash for a gun. In addition, he was charged with possession, manufacturing, and the sale of counterfeit currency.
In 1998, John Dolphus Ford, Jr. was convicted of a felony narcotics charge, and now faces up to 10 years in prison. The Secret Service began investigating Ford after it was discovered that he was involved in a scheme to make and sell counterfeit bills in the Washington, D.C. area.
This is just one of many examples of the Secret Service’s success in protecting the worldwide integrity of U.S. currency. In FY 2011, the Secret Service made 2,673 domestic arrests and 280 foreign arrests for counterfeiting offenses, seized over $70 million of counterfeit currency before it entered public circulation and helped to remove more than $115 million in counterfeit U.S. currency from circulation. All these efforts together resulted in the prevention of $5.6 billion in potential losses.
The agency continues to adapt to the trends in counterfeiting, which have been influenced in recent years by computer-based technologies. The widespread use of personal computers and advancements in digital printing technology has provided more individuals the opportunity to manufacture a passable counterfeit note with relative ease. Approximately 61% of the counterfeit currency passed domestically in FY 2011 was produced using digital printing means, compared with less than 1% in FY 1995.
The Secret Service’s approach to protecting U.S. currency includes working jointly with domestic and international law enforcement partners as well as conducting aggressive investigations that identify the source of the illicit production of counterfeit in order to minimize its collective economic impact.
Established as a law enforcement agency in 1865 to investigate and prevent counterfeiting, the Secret Service’s primary investigative mission continues to be safeguarding the payment and financial systems of the United States. The agency has evolved from enforcing counterfeiting laws that preserve the integrity of U.S. currency, coin and financial obligations to include a wide range of financial and computer-based crimes.