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Counterfeiting - Coins And Currency, Other Items - Punishment

law federal product applies

The process of fraudulently manufacturing, altering, or distributing a product that is of lesser value than the genuine product.

Counterfeiting is a criminal offense when it involves an intent to defraud in passing off the counterfeit item. The law contains exemptions for collector's items and items that are so obviously dissimilar from the original that a reasonable person would not consider them real. However, making a poor copy is no defense if the intent to defraud exists.

Counterfeiting most commonly applies to currency and coins. It is illegal to manufacture, possess, or sell equipment or materials for use in producing counterfeit coins and currency. Federal law also prohibits producing counterfeit postmarks, postage stamps, military papers, or government SECURITIES. Counterfeiting also applies to the fraudulent manufacture and sale of other items, such as computer software, CDs, consumer products, airplane parts, and even designer dresses. An increase in this type of counterfeiting has led to a strengthening of intellectual property laws worldwide. Counterfeiting or conspiracy to distribute counterfeit goods can lead to state or federal criminal charges. Civil lawsuits also can result from allegations of counterfeiting.

Punishment

Under federal law, counterfeiting is a class C felony, punishable by up to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of as much as $250,000. State laws also establish penalties for counterfeiting.

FURTHER READINGS

Glaser, Lynn. 1968. Counterfeiting in America: The History of an American Way to Wealth. New York: Potter.

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