How many times have you seen someone sporting a Rolex watch, or wearing Oakley sunglasses and wondered to yourself, are those real? Counterfeiting is a serious issue in this nation and around the world: however, it can be easily defined, its different variations identified, methods understood, and it can be dealt with. As white collar crime has evolved, so have the various types that have been undertaken. Ranging anywhere from blackmail to bribery, or computer fraud to forgery, white collar crime is a fast growing and serious issue. "Perhaps most troubling is the widespread threat counterfeiting poses to public health and safety. Few Americans truly appreciate the significance, scope or consequences for this crime."
Counterfeiting is only one major type of white collar crime. This crime occurs when someone copies or imitates an item without having been authorized to do so and passes the copy off for the genuine or original item. Judging by this definition, many people's lives are touched by this crime. Counterfeiting is most often associated with money however it can also be associated with other activities. Counterfeiting ranges from the dubbing of currency, to the passing off of fake clothing for designer materials, and even includes the pirating of music and movies. Although pirating movies and music is sometimes considered its own category, by definition, if they are being passed off as the real product, it is counterfeiting.
The counterfeiting of money is one of the oldest white collar crimes. At some periods in early history, it was considered so serious that it was punishable by death. During the American Revolution, counterfeiting was so rampant, especially by the British, the colonial currency was deemed nearly worthless. While during the Civil War, almost a half of all the currency in circulation was counterfeit. At the time, almost 1,600 state banks printed their own bills; and each bank carried a different design, making it difficult to detect counterfeit bills from the 7,000 varieties of real bills. A national currency was adopted in 1862 to resolve the counterfeiting problem, and in 1865, the government took a stand and established a permanent organization to suppress the wide-spread counterfeiting of the nation's currency. Although the counterfeiting of money was substantially suppressed after the establishment of the Secret Service, the crime still represented a potential danger to the nation's economy. In the 1980s counterfeiting in the Republic of Ireland twice resulted in sudden changes in official documents: in November 1984 the one pound postage stamp, also used on savings cards for paying television licenses and telephone bills, was invalidated and replaced by another design at a few days' notice, because of widespread counterfeiting. Later, the twenty pound banknote was rapidly replaced because of what the Finance Minister described as "the involuntary privatization of banknote printing". In the 1990s, the portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong was placed on the banknotes of the People's Republic of China to combat counterfeiting, as he more recognizable than the generic designs on the renminbi notes. Today, counterfeiting once again is on the rise. One reason for this is the ease and speed with which large quantities of counterfeit currency can be produced using modern photographic and printing equipment. The counterfeiting problem does not end with money as most people think. The wide array of counterfeit goods ranges from auto parts, aircraft parts, baby formula, apparel, purses, jewelry, shampoo, cosmetics, sunglasses, software, medical devices, consumer drugs, medicines, and food products. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce reports losses to U.S. business from the counterfeiting of trademarked consumer products are estimated at $200 billion a year. Basically anything can be copied and passed off for the real thing, which makes counterfeiting such a wide-ranging problem. These...
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