It is illegal to learn how to print counterfeit bills, and it is also illegal to possess them with intent to commit fraud, reports the U.S. Secret Service. Both crimes carry the penalty of a fine and up to 15 years in prison. Individuals can only reproduce U.S. currency if specific size and use specifications prescribed by law are met, states the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
To attempt to duplicate the special paper used for U.S. currency, which has special embedded blue and red threads, is also illegal, notes the U.S. Secret Service. Additionally, the U.S. Criminal Code stipulates that it is illegal to deface U.S. currency by cutting, perforating, disfiguring or mutilating it, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. If counterfeiters attempt to create facsimiles of currency on laser printers, the copies have microscopic codes embedded within them that allow the government to trace the bills back to the printer who made them, PC World reports.
Individuals are only allowed to reproduce black-and-white or color copies of U.S. bills if the copies are either less than 3/4 or 1 1/2 times larger than the originals, explains the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The copies can only be one-sided, and the maker must destroy all graphic files, storage mediums, plates and anything else used to make the reproductions. Individuals or businesses cannot use reproductions of U.S. currency in advertisements, cards, notices or handbills.