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The big business of fake money

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"How widespread is counterfeiting? At any given time, some $200 million in bogus U.S. bills is in circulation worldwide, authorities say. About $60 million of those fakes circulates through the U.S. each year. Counterfeiting represents only a tiny fraction of the $800 billion in circulation, but it can be a nightmare for merchants or consumers who end up with the phony bills, because counterfeits can’t be exchanged for the genuine article. “It’s like a hot potato,” says Secret Service agent Bill Leege. “Whoever’s stuck with it is stuck with it.” In 2005, counterfeiters in Washington, D.C., laundered $3,900 through the Amen Gift Shop’s Western Union terminal, paying for wire transfers with phony money and collecting real cash on the other end. Shopowner Nwaka Egbulem had to reimburse Western Union out of his own pocket and shuttered his business. “It was devastating,” he says."
SOURCE:   The Week