Counterfeit (or Anti-Counterfeit) Printing

According to Harold Schofield of the Information Management Institute, the cost of fraud through counterfeit and piracy is $250 – $350 billion per year in the US along and growing.  Counterfeited printing does not just apply to currency but to pharmaceutical labels, software packaging, licenses, and tax labels, just to name a few.

I just returned from a conference on security printing and brand protection held in Baltimore Maryland.  We heard from big organizations in this area like the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, Kodak, Heidelberg, and Appleton Papers as well as many small suppliers helping to deter counterfeiting.  I was there to learn more about the needs and concerns of this growing problem and to demonstrate how the unique printing services that Burdge is an expert in can participate.

What I learned is that there are many companies who’s brand managers are beginning to realize that counterfeited products are no longer a nuisance but are costing their companies lost revenue, damaging the goodwill of their brand, and in some cases exposing them to potential liability claims. Fraud countermeasures can be broken down into three areas; Documents, Identity, and Intellectual property rights/products.

Consider the drug manufacturer whose name brand pills are being sold as the real thing over the Internet or in foreign countries.  Ely Lily was one of those in attendance and recognizes the potentially multi-million-dollar problem if this is not solved.

Consider government agencies; local, state, and federal, who all have concerns over counterfeited documents.  After 9/11 the attempt to verify that an individual is who he says he is has ramped up tremendously.  Consider that there are over 6,400 types of birth certificates in the United States and a birth certificate is the first document one needs to begin to get all the other identification they will need the rest of their life.  There are efforts underway to standardize this document so secure verification can take place.

Burdge, Inc. is uniquely set up to serve this growing market by applying the multiple printing techniques we produce in-house for short run (under 500,000) products.  You can learn more about what we do at

Counterfeiting has a long history in our past.  Beginning in 1924 when my grandfather, who just opened the doors as a hand engraver in Los Angeles, was one day approached by two men in dark suits at the end of the business day.  As the story goes, they entered his business and told him that they knew that he had the skills to duplicate engraving plates used to make the twenty-dollar bill.  They also told him that they knew where he lived and that they knew he had a baby boy at home (my father) and that if he didn’t make the twenty-dollar plate their would be trouble.  My grandfather, Charlie, left the building that night, went home, picked up his wife and son, and left town.  When he finally returned to work weeks later he kept looking over his shoulder for his two visitors but fortunately never heard from those “thugs” again..

Fast forward to the early 1990’s when I received a call from Steven Spielberg’s office at Universal Pictures.  The famous producer was about to work on a movie that involved counterfeiting checks and currency and they wanted to know if I would show them how to do that.  He sent a team over to our plant and I proceeded to take them around and explain how one would go about counterfeiting checks and currency if one had the criminal mind to do so.  I later found out that the movie he was making was “Catch Me If You Can” starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DeCapria.  When I saw the movie I recognized some of the lines from the conversation I had with Spielberg’s staff that day that they came to visit.


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