Counterfeit money is a problem that has been around for as long as currency has been in use. In recent years, the problem has become increasingly prevalent, with an estimated $200 billion worth of counterfeit bills in circulation worldwide.

This number continues to grow as technology makes it easier and easier to create fake money. While various measures have been taken to try and combat this issue, it remains a significant problem for governments and businesses alike.

In this article, we will explore the state of counterfeit money statistics, looking at how much counterfeit money is in circulation, which currencies are most commonly counterfeited, and how much this illegal activity is worth.

How Much Counterfeit Money is in Circulation 2022

So, how much fake money is in circulation?

An estimated $70 – $200 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation at any given time according to the United States Department of Treasury.

Key Finding: Counterfeit Money Statistics

Read through this section to find out mesmerizing fake money statistics that will shock you.

  • An estimated $70 – $200 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation at any given time according to the United States Department of Treasury.
  • About 50% of all dollars in circulation were held outside of the country as of March 2021. (Federal Reserve Report)
  • Approximately 1 note in counterfeits for every 10,000 in genuine currency. (USDT)
  • The $20 bill is the most frequently counterfeited note reported by Reuters.
  • About 60% of $20 is counterfeit money circulation in the USA.
  • A $100 bill is the most common Counterfeit money overseas.
  • More than $147 million fake US currency is in circulation globally with 60% circulating in the US according to the US Secret Service. (Source: CNBC)

What Percentage Of Money is Counterfeit?

So, what percentage of the money in circulation was counterfeit?

It is estimated that about 0.01% of all the money is counterfeit. This may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that there are over 2.27 trillion US dollars in circulation.

Most countries have very strict laws against counterfeiting currency, and anyone caught manufacturing or distributing fake money can face severe penalties, including prison time and hefty fines. In some cases, counterfeiters may even be sentenced to death.

What is the Most Common Counterfeit Bill?

The most common counterfeit bill is the American $100 bill.

What is the Most Frequently Counterfeited Currency Amount in the United States?

The $20 bill is the most frequently counterfeited note reported by Reuters.

Counterfeit Money in the US

This section deals with statistics on counterfeit money in the US.

1.  Bourassa made $250 million of fake US currency in the early 2000s hence becomes the biggest money counterfeiter in US history.

(Source: Wauchula State Bank)

A piece of paper in Bourassa’s possession looked remarkably identical to that used by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in the United States. He created counterfeit twenty-dollar bills and included security features that were identical to those found on real twenty-dollar bills in the United States. He ran his business out of his printing shop on his property, where he sold counterfeit notes for about $50 million before being apprehended.

2.  According to the US treasury, counterfeit US currency that was in circulation in the 2001 financial year was less than 0.01% of about 600 billion USD that was in circulation that year.

(Source: frbsf)

In the year 2001, the proportion of counterfeit money in circulation was almost non-existent. This year, the efforts of the United States Secret Service were rewarded. Before the Federal Reserve was established in 1965, about one-third to one-half of the cash in circulation in the United States was counterfeit. The United States Secret Service and the Federal Reserve worked together to reduce the amount of counterfeit money in circulation.

3.  Only $17.1 million worth of fake notes accounting for 25% of all fake currency produced in America in 1991, entered the US commercial mainstream.

(Source: The National Academies Press)

The Secret Service of the United States of America seized about 87 million USD in counterfeit banknotes before they could be released into circulation. The Federal Reserve System withdrew the remaining counterfeit money from circulation when it was discovered.

4.  The US currency worth $30.7 million was detected overseas in 1991.

(Source: The National Academies Press)

Because there is no worldwide mechanism for reporting all counterfeiting occurrences, the information provided here may not be complete. As a result, it is possible that counterfeiting of US money in other countries is a more serious issue than this figure suggests.

5.  45% of all fake US currency that was passed in the US in the 1998 financial year was printed outside the US.

(Source: The United States Treasury Department)

As a result, counterfeit US money is a worldwide issue, despite the fact that counterfeiting US currency is not considered a global crime in many nations. Even more concerning, there is no central repository for counterfeit notes, nor is there a standardized reporting mechanism for counterfeit activity.

6.  The 1993 US Secret Service estimates revealed that money counterfeiting was increasing by between 4% and 6% annually.

(Source: The National Academies Press)

According to the data, counterfeit US money worth $20 million reached the commercial mainstream in the United States during the 1993 fiscal year. During the same fiscal year, an additional 121 million USD in counterfeit US currency was recovered throughout the world during the manufacturing process before entering circulation.

7.  90% of counterfeit money in the US is produced using a lithograph machine.

(Source: The National Academies Press)

Professionalism and expertise, as well as specific equipment and materials, are required for money counterfeiting using lithographic techniques. This technique is used by counterfeiters for economic reasons since it allows them to manufacture huge numbers of phony notes, which makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to trace down the source and seize the counterfeit money.

8.  3569 money counterfeiting suspects were arrested and 616 fake money plants were closed by the US Secret Service in the 1998 fiscal year.

(Source: The United States Treasury Department)

The Secret Service of the United States is dedicated to eradicating counterfeiting. As a consequence of this dedication, the immediate ramifications of counterfeiting in the United States are very minor as compared to the ramifications of check fraud. For example, the cost of check fraud in 1995 was 615 million USD, which was almost 20 times the cost of money counterfeiting in the same year.

9.  In 1998, the US denomination that attracted the largest amount of counterfeits was the 100 US dollar note.

(Source: The United States Treasury Department)

The 100-dollar bill was the most often counterfeited denomination, both in terms of percentage and monetary value, according to the FBI. False 100-dollar bills processed in 1998 were worth almost $6 million and accounted for 60 percent of all the counterfeit bills processed that year.

Counterfeiters targeted this currency, most likely because it is the most widely used denomination in circulation. The Federal Reserve’s holdings of $100 notes rose from 21 percent in 1965 to 65 percent in 1998, according to the Federal Reserve.

10.  In 2014, the US banknote that was counterfeited most in the US was the 20 dollar note while the 100 dollar note was leading in counterfeits overseas.

(Source: CNBC)

During this time period, counterfeit US money in the amount of $147 million was in circulation throughout the world. In the same year, 2191 people were arrested for using counterfeit money, while 188 counterfeit money manufacturing facilities were shut down across the world.

11.  Counterfeit money intercepted outside the US in 2002 was $121.8 million compared to 52.6 million USD intercepted in the US domestic market.

(Source: Made of Money)

More fake US currency was detected outside the US than the amount detected in the US in the same year.

Counterfeit Money Circulation in 2020 Statistics

1.An estimated $70 – $200 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation at any given time according to the United States Department of Treasury.

counterfeit bills are in circulation


2. In 2020 the U.S. Secret Service confiscated more than half a billion dollars in counterfeit money.

(U.S Secret Service Annual Report 2020)

The market for counterfeit money detectors is anticipated to continue increasing in order to reduce the manufacturing of counterfeit money and to aid in the removal of counterfeit money from circulation. You will discover in this part significant data that examine the worldwide trends in the detection of counterfeit money.

12.  The global market for detecting counterfeit Money is expected to reach 1.5 billion USD resulting from a 6.5% compound growth rate.

(Source: Research and Markets)

The Coin and Currency Counter market sector was found to have a growth potential of over 6 percent, according to the research. By the year 2025, it is projected that this business would have generated more than 1.4 billion USD.

13.  Germany is expected to add more than 69.3 USD compared to 68.2 million USD from the other European markets.

(Source: Research and Markets)

By 2025, Germany’s fake money detection industry will provide more returns for the world economy than the whole rest of the European market combined, according to estimates. During this time period, the United States is expected to maintain its current growth rate of 7.5 percent.

14.  Japan’s fake money detection market size will reach 128.5 USD by 2025.

(Source: Research and Markets)

The coin and currency counter market size in Japan will be almost twice that of the whole of Europe combined.

15.  China’s exhibited counterfeit money detection market growth rate potential of 6.3%.

(Source: Research and Markets)

China is the world’s second-largest economy, and it is anticipated that the vast majority of companies would take advantage of this opportunity and spend heavily in the fake money detection industry in the next years. As a result, China will contribute about 225.9 million US dollars to the worldwide market. Because of this, China will surpass the whole European Union as the world’s largest market for counterfeit money detection.

Least Counterfeited Currencies

The statistics in this section will provide light on which currencies are the least likely to be counterfeited. This section will provide you with information about currencies that are very resistant to counterfeit.

16.  There is only one counterfeit note or coin in every 1 million in the circulation of the New Zealand Kiwi dollar

(Source: Love Money)

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand admits that the degree of counterfeiting of their money is much lower when compared to the counterfeiting of currency from other nations.

17.  In 2017 only 20 fake notes of 50 Krones each were discovered in Norway.

(Source: Love Money)

This was reported on news headlines since such an occurrence was very rare in that country.

18.  A 19.4% drop in the number of notes forged was witnessed in South Korea in 2020.

(Source: Love Money)

According to the Bank of Korea, a decline in forgeries began in the first half of 2017. This nation, on the other hand, is home to some of the most skilled counterfeiters in the world, who specialize in the fabrication of more expensive currencies such as US dollars.

19.  In Canada, money forgery decreased by 74% in 2015.

(Source: Love Money)

Although counterfeiting has decreased, it was discovered that there was one fake Canadian dollar for every 3600 real Canadian dollars in circulation during the fiscal year 2015. As a result, the Canadian dollar continues to rank sixth among the most counterfeited currencies in the world.

Most Counterfeited Currencies

The statistics below reveal the currencies that are mostly forged in the world.

20.  In 2020, Chinese police seized 422 million yuan fake notes.

(Source: Love Money)

Despite the fact that China’s 100 yuan note was just introduced in 2015, it is the denomination that is most often counterfeited. Fake 100 yuan banknotes are available for purchase for as little as 6 yuan.

21.  From 2010 to 2020, India’s Reserve Bank detected 4.27 million fake notes.

(Source: Love Money)

The counterfeiting of the new 500-rupee Indian rupee note increased by 121 percent in the first quarter of 2019. Fake Indian rupee notes rose in number by 57.3 percent, while counterfeit 20 rupee notes increased in number by 87.2 percent in a single year. Despite a rise in fabrication of these denominations, counterfeiting of 100 Indian rupee notes has dropped by 7.5 percent, according to the report.

22.  In 2015, there are 71 fake Mexican currency notes in every one million notes according to the Bank of Mexico.

(Source: Love Money)

In 2015, Mexico’s peso was the fourth most often counterfeit currency in the world. In the first six months of 2019, there were 80891 counterfeit 500 peso notes found, making it the denomination with the most number of counterfeits discovered in the first six months of any year since 2015.

23.  Since 2015, there has been one fake euro per 23000 euro notes.

(Source: Love Money)

The number of counterfeit euro notes, on the other hand, has decreased from 363000 in the first three months of 2017 to 251000 in the first six months of this year. The 20-euro bill is the denomination that is most often counterfeited, followed by the 50-euro bill and the 100-euro bill.

24.  There was one fake US dollar per 10000 USD in 2015.

(Source: Love Money)

The United States dollar was the world’s second most often falsified currency. The 20-dollar bill was the most often counterfeited bill in the United States, while the 100-dollar bill was the most frequently counterfeited money in other countries. Peruvian forgers produce high-quality counterfeit United States dollars. In May 2020, the United States Secret Service apprehended 15 million USD in counterfeit US currency in Peru.

25.  In 2015, there was one fake pound in every 30 pounds.

(Source: Love Money)

In 2015, the currency of the United Kingdom was the most often counterfeited in the world. It is predicted by the Bank of England that approximately 427,000 false notes with a value of 9.8 pounds will be removed from circulation in 2019.

Counterfeiters in the United Kingdom are mostly focused on the banknote and coin markets. According to the Royal Mint, about 25% of 1.6 billion one-pound false coins were produced, resulting in the introduction of a dodecagon (12-sided) one-pound coin in March 2017.

Final Thought

Anti-counterfeiting measures must be coordinated across all nations in order to combat the worldwide issue of money forgery. Unfortunately, there are no worldwide mechanisms or laws in place to guarantee that all nations combat this vice in unison, as there should be. Each country’s currency has security measures that help to prevent counterfeiting. There is, on the other hand, no money in the world that has never been counterfeited, although to varying degrees of success.

Counterfeiters begin producing counterfeit notes as soon as new denominations are put into the marketplace. Countries use design features to make money forging more difficult and to discourage counterfeiters from producing counterfeit money in order to combat forgery. Authentication of money may be verified by looking for security features such as watermarks, a security thread, the kind of paper used, signatures, a seal, color-shifting ink, numbering, and measurements, among others. Despite the safeguards put in place, counterfeiters continue to manufacture counterfeit money and inject it into the financial system. Counters accomplish this by purchasing sophisticated equipment, as well as the necessary ink, paper, and printing plates. To do this, criminals must make significant financial expenditures in the acquisition of equipment and materials.

Because of advances in technology, it has become more difficult to fully eliminate money counterfeiting. In recent years, counterfeiting has relied on digital scanners, inkjet printers, and easily accessible computers to carry out its operations. Fake money seems to be identical to genuine money when seen from a distance, however a close inspection of the money allows for the identification of counterfeited money. Examining money through a loupe may also aid in the detection of counterfeit money.

The majority of the time, counterfeiters target the most precious currencies, such as the currencies of the United States and the United Kingdom. Because a large amount of US money flows in most areas of the globe, a large amount of counterfeit US currency is also manufactured in other countries. Visitors who sneak the phony money into the nation then transport it to the United States through the United States postal system.

The act of creating counterfeit money is worse than the act of stealing. The use of counterfeit money to purchase products has negative consequences for those who do not use counterfeit money. This is because counterfeit money causes legitimate money to lose value, causing the cost of goods and services to rise.

Money forging is a severe crime that occurs not just in the United States but across the whole globe. Once apprehended, counterfeiters are subjected to the full force of the law in their respective jurisdictions. For these types of offenders, jail, fines, and even death are among the possible punishments.


Q: What is the meaning of counterfeit money?

A counterfeit currency is any currency that has been manufactured unlawfully by people who attempt to mimic the legal currency in order to mislead the receiver by using it to pay for goods and services.

Q: How can you spot fake money?

Answer: To determine whether money is counterfeit or genuine, hold it up to a light and examine the hologram for an image that is identical to the face of the individual on the bill, whether the color is shifting, whether it has the security thread, whether it has the ultraviolet glow in the bill, whether it has the microprinting on the security thread, whether it has the presence of fine line printing patterns, and then compare how the pape looks to the original.

Q: Which is the most counterfeited denomination of the US currency?

Answer: In the United States, the 20-dollar bill is the denomination that is most often counterfeited, while the 100-dollar bill is the denomination that is most frequently counterfeited outside of the United States of America.

Q: What are the chances of receiving counterfeit money in the US?

Answer: According to the Federal Reserve of the United States, counterfeit money accounts for less than 0.01 percent of all money in circulation in the United States. This implies that the likelihood of encountering check fraud is 20 times greater than the likelihood of experiencing counterfeit money. In other words, although the odds of getting counterfeit money in the United States are very low, it is nevertheless conceivable.


U.S Secret Service Annual Report

Federal Reserve Report

 U.S. News

NBC Chicago


Made of Money


 The United States Treasury Department


Wauchula State Bank


The National Academies Press

The National Academies Press

 Research and Markets

Love Money

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