Today we are going to look at a very deceiving man-made error. The past three Fridays I have shown examples of how people produce errors like altered colors, shrunken money, and moved seals. Those are all easy to spot because they can’t actually be produced by The Bureau of Engraving and Printing during the printing process. The scary thing about the error we are looking at here is that authentic versions do exist and they are very valuable.
The picture below (found on Craigslist) shows a $2 bill that supposedly has the serial number and seal printed twice on it. This would typically be called a doubled third overprint. Authentic errors like this can sell for thousands of dollars. The financial motivation to fake these is obvious. The example below is easy to spot because the fake second serial number is obviously a different color of green. So how is this error made? Simply scan in an authentic $2 bill into your computer. You could then use photoshop to remove all of the printed areas with exception of the third print. Print that image out (with just the seal and serial numbers) a few times to get the size and alignment correct. Then tape your authentic two dollar bill to a sheet of paper, run it through the printer, now you suddenly have something that went from a value of $2 to $2,000. You have also committed a criminal act.
So how can you spot this error if it is fake? Assuming all the colors are correct and the fake error really is deceiving then you will only be able to spot a real versus a fake by using a microscope. Ink from the BEP is thick and will be layered on the paper. Ink from the printer will have been absorbed by the surface and it won’t reflect light as much. It should be pretty obvious under magnification that you are looking at two different printing styles. We don’t ever recommend buying an error like this unless it has been authenticated by PMG or PCGS. It is worth paying a premium for an authentic example rather than getting burned on a “good deal.”