- — Redesigned $20s, $50s, $10s, and $5s were introduced between 2003 and 2008. A snazzy $100 - the most commonly counterfeited bill, according to the Secret Service - entered circulation in October after a delay of nearly 2 1/2 years due to production problems. The new $100 includes two new security features: a blue 3-D security ribbon and a color-changing bell in an inkwell. Those features are "intended to thwart increased counterfeiting of currency using digital reproductive technology," Felix testified.
A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Darlene Anderson, didn't respond to two phone messages seeking more information about her agency's countermeasures.
Manufacturers of printers and scanners, working with central banks and law enforcement officials worldwide, have also taken steps to fight counterfeiters, creating software that can detect and block the scanning of bills.
"HP works with law enforcement, industry,central banks and government agencies around the world to reduce the risk of counterfeiting activities," said Michael Thacker, director of media relations for HP, the computer hardware company based in Palo Alto, California. He declined to be more specific: "Due to potential security risks, HP is obligated to keep the details of its activities confidential."
Catching counterfeiters who circumvent those safeguards requires the same skills as agents who target drug dealers and gang leaders, the Secret Service says.
In 2012, for example, a convicted armed robber was caught trying to use 10 fake $100 bills to buy a Dell laptop at a Brandsmart Store in West Palm Beach.
The suspect became an informant for the Secret Service and led agents to his supplier. Agents convinced that man to cooperate, and he went undercover, purchasing $10,000 in fake bills - some still damp from the printer - from Jean Losier, 39, an artist and painter in Palm Beach County, Florida, according to charging papers.
Losier, who has pleaded not guilty, describes himself on his website as "mega artist" of "elite paintings and drawings."
Federal prosecutors and agents say Losier was indeed a "mega" artist: They allege he produced more than $4 million in fake bills.