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Counterfeiting and Forgery

Counterfeiting and forgery cases are often investigated by federal law enforcement officers with the F.B.I. or Secret Service. Counterfeiting is making or creating an unauthorized imitation of a genuine article (currency, checks, identity cards, etc.) with the intent to deceive or defraud a third party. The closely related crime of forgery is slightly different and involves a false writing, printing, or similar item with the intent to pass off the signature, authorization, or other pretenses of the granting of permission to affect a fraud.

For example, counterfeit checks would be checks that were made to look as though they were genuine to be cashed by a bank, business, or individual. A forgery would be taking otherwise genuinely issued checks and printing signatures or other necessary authorizations on a check under the pretense that someone authorized to issue the check had done so.

There are likely more than one hundred different acts that could qualify as counterfeiting or forgery. Our experienced Florida and Georgia federal criminal defense attorneys can assist you in your defense. Quick action by an attorney can lead to dismissals of charges or a reduction in sentence. If you are the subject of a federal investigation in Florida or Georgia, call the lawyers at Arnold Law Firm today.

Below are the two most common Counterfeiting and Forgery statutes used by the United States Attorney's Offices in Florida and Georgia.

§ 470. Counterfeit acts committed outside the United States

(1) A person who, outside the United States, engages in the act of- making, dealing, or possessing any counterfeit obligation or other security of the United States; or

(2) making, dealing, or possessing any plate, stone, analog, digital, or electronic image, or other thing, or any part thereof, used to counterfeit such obligation or security, if such act would constitute a violation of section 471, 473, or 474 if committed within the United States, shall be punished as is provided for the like offense within the United States.

§ 471. Obligations or securities of United States

Whoever, with intent to defraud, falsely makes, forges, counterfeits, or alters any obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

§ 472. Uttering counterfeit obligations or securities

Whoever, with intent to defraud, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or with like intent brings into the United States or keeps in possession or conceals any falsely made, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

§ 473. Dealing in counterfeit obligations or securities

Whoever buys, sells, exchanges, transfers, receives, or delivers any false, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, with the intent that the same be passed, published, or used as true and genuine, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

§ 474. Plates, stones, or analog, digital, or electronic images for counterfeiting obligations or securities

(a) Whoever, having control, custody, or possession of any plate, stone, or other thing, or any part thereof, from which has been printed, or which may be prepared by direction of the Secretary of the Treasury for the purpose of printing, any obligation or other security of the United States, uses such plate, stone, or other thing, or any part thereof, or knowingly suffers the same to be used for the purpose of printing any such or similar obligation or other security, or any part thereof, except as may be printed for the use of the United States by order of the proper officer thereof; or

Whoever makes or executes any plate, stone, or other thing in the likeness of any plate designated for the printing of such obligation or other security; or

Whoever, with intent to defraud, makes, executes, acquires, scans, captures, records, receives, transmits, reproduces, sells, or has in such person's control, custody, or possession, an analog, digital, or electronic image of any obligation or other security of the United States; or Whoever sells any such plate, stone, or other thing, or brings into the United States any such plate, stone, or other thing, except under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury or other proper officer, or with any other intent, in either case, than that such plate, stone, or other thing be used for the printing of the obligations or other securities of the United States; or Whoever has in his control, custody, or possession any plate, stone, or other thing in any manner made after or in the similitude of any plate, stone, or other thing, from which any such obligation or other security has been printed, with intent to use such plate, stone, or other thing, or to suffer the same to be used in forging or counterfeiting any such obligation or other security, or any part thereof; or Whoever has in his possession or custody, except under authority from the Secretary of the Treasury or other proper officer, any obligation or other security made or executed, in whole or in part, after the similitude of any obligation or other security issued under the authority of the United States, with intent to sell or otherwise use the same; or Whoever prints, photographs, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such obligation or other security, or any part thereof, or sells any such engraving, photograph, print, or impression, except to the United States, or brings into the United States, any such engraving, photograph, print, or impression, except by direction of some proper officer of the United States—

Is guilty of a class B felony.

(b) For purposes of this section, the term "analog, digital, or electronic image" includes any analog, digital, or electronic method used for the making, execution, acquisition, scanning, capturing, recording, retrieval, transmission, or reproduction of any obligation or security, unless such use is authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury. The Secretary shall establish a system (pursuant to section 504) to ensure that the legitimate use of such electronic methods and retention of such reproductions by businesses, hobbyists, press and others shall not be unduly restricted.

§ 475. Imitating obligations or securities; advertisements

Whoever designs, engraves, prints, makes, or executes, or utters, issues, distributes, circulates, or uses any business or professional card, notice, placard, circular, handbill, or advertisement in the likeness or similitude of any obligation or security of the United States issued under or authorized by any Act of Congress or writes, prints, or otherwise impresses upon or attaches to any such instrument, obligation, or security, or any coin of the United States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement whatever, shall be fined under this title. Nothing in this section applies to evidence of postage payment approved by the United States Postal Service.

Statutes above are up to date from www.law.cornell.edu as of October 1, 2009.

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