Crisp, New and Hard to Fake

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Federal Reserve released a new $100 bill today and has announced plans to modify smaller denominations over the next several years in an attempt to stay ahead of counterfeiters. The redesigned C-notes will feature several alterations, including a larger, slightly off-center Benjamin Franklin with a microscopic "United States of America" on his coat. "This change will ensure that the U.S. currency remains the most trusted and respected in the world," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. The Treasury Department hopes that the new series will thwart counterfeiters using sophisticated, widely-available computer technologies. Reaction to the change is likely to be greater overseas, where the $100 bill is more common. In the U.S., smaller denominations are exchanged during most transactions and American counterfeiters prefer the $20 bill. However, in China, Cuba, Russia and many Eastern bloc countries, dollars are often hoarded by people who fear the sudden hyperinflation or devaluation of local currencies. Many of these countries have poor methods for detecting fake bills and are easily fooled by some of the high-quality counterfeit notes on the market. The ubiquity of the counterfeit greenbacks compelled the Treasury to modify the U.S. currency. According to the U.S. Secret Service, the dollar is the most desirable and the most easily counterfeited currency in the world. The Treasury has printed about $80 million worth of new bills, about one-third of all the existing $100 bills. The bills will trickle in slowly, some appearing in financial capitals by Monday afternoon. Old notes will not be recalled or devalued but will be removed gradually as they wear out.