Counterfeiting of money is one of the oldest crimes in history. It was a serious problem in the early days of our country when banks issued their own currency. By the time of the Civil War, it was estimated that one-third of all currency in circulation was counterfeit.
At that time, there were approximately 1,600 state banks designing and printing their own notes. Each note carried a different design, making it difficult to distinguish the 4,000 varieties of counterfeits from the 7,000 varieties of genuine notes.
It was hoped the adoption of a national currency in 1863 would solve the counterfeiting problem. However, the national currency was soon counterfeited so extensively it became necessary for the Government to take enforcement measures. On July 5, 1865, the United States Secret Service was established to suppress counterfeiting.
Although counterfeiting has been substantially curtailed since the establishment of the Secret Service, this crime continues to represent a potential danger to the Nation's economy and a source of financial loss to its citizens. Modern photographic and printing devices have made the production of counterfeit money relatively easy. In addition, recent innovations in office machine copiers have given rise to the so called "casual counterfeiter" who has access to such equipment.