darkest hour in any man's life is when he sits down to plan how to get money without earning it."
People have been counterfeiting money since its beginning. At some early time in early history, counterfeiting money was considered treason, and was punishable by death. During the American Revolution, U.S. Continental notes were counterfeited in such large amounts by the British that they soon became worthless, and started the popular phrase, " Not worth a Continental."
Josh Tatum was a gold miner during
the gold rush of 1858, and he discovered a flaw on the five cent piece. On the back
of both the five cent and the five dollar coin, there was a Roman numeral V.
The five cent coin should have had the word "cents" on the back, but it wasn't there. Therefore, the five cent and the five dollar coin looked exactly alike, except for the color. Josh Tatum decided that if he rubbed gold dust on the five cent coin, he could pass it off as a five dollar coin. He was able to get by with this for a while, but was eventually arrested. His excuse in court was that he was a deaf-mute and that he never really asked for change for his gold dust covered coins, but was given change anyway. He was sent to jail, where he spent several years.
During the Civil War, between 1/3 and 1/2 of all the U.S. notes in circulation were counterfeit. About 1,600 state banks designed and printed their own bills at that time. There were 7,000 varieties of real bills making it difficult to detect counterfeit bills.
In 1862, a single national form of
money was adopted to fix the counterfeit problem. However, the national money was
soon so extensively counterfeited and circulated that it became necessary to develop a way to stop it. In 1865, the Secret Service was established to supress counterfeiting. Although it was greatly
limited after the Secret Service was established, counterfeiting is still a danger
to our economy. The Secret Service continues to battle counterfeiting, but their
main job today is to protect the President and his family. Some of the other jobs of
the Secret Service are to prevent offenses related to currency, coins, and stamps, as well
as investigating computer fraud and false identification crimes.
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