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Nickels are small changes, but counterfeit nickels are no small matter. The legal ramifications of using a counterfeit nickel extend beyond simply “fake money” and can result in severe penalties. Here’s what to know about the legalities of counterfeit nickels.

Counterfeiting is taken very seriously by law enforcement. It’s not just a crime against monetary value. It is also a threat to the economic system and the very foundation of trust in currency.

Here are crucial legal consequences you should be aware of when it comes to counterfeit nickels:

Federal Offense

Counterfeiting is a federal offense. Under Title 18, U.S.C., Section 485, it is illegal to reproduce any kind of money at any time.

The counterfeit money law makes no distinction between the denomination and the completed monetary value. Creating or even just trying to produce “a false or altered likeness of any coin or obligation or security of the United States” is a felony.

Monetary Fines

The fines for counterfeiting are hefty. Under federal law, those who are caught counterfeiting face fines up to $250,000 or twice the value of the counterfeit currency. For subsequent offenses, the fine is doubled, reaching $500,000 in extreme cases.


The federal sentence for manufacturing or passing counterfeit currency can be up to 15 years of imprisonment. The sentence can be increased even further if the counterfeiting is directly linked to international terrorism.

So always make sure that you know how to tell if a coin is uncirculated. Make sure you find an online coin appraisal site that can help you determine a coin’s value.

Property Seizure

In addition to monetary fines and imprisonment, those involved in counterfeiting may also face property seizure. This means that any materials or equipment used in the manufacturing of counterfeit money can be seized by the government.

Concealment Violation

Even if you are not directly involved in counterfeiting, knowingly concealing counterfeit currency is also a violation of federal law. This can result in fines and imprisonment as well.

Distribution Penalties

Passing counterfeit money is considered as serious as the act of creating it, and the penalties are similar. The severity of punishment will depend on the offender’s intent. A person who sells or distributes counterfeit currency will generally face harsher penalties than someone who uses it once.

And anyone can be a victim of this. So make sure you get coin appraisals when buying coins to avoid being unknowingly involved in counterfeit activities.

Effect on Personal Record

A conviction for counterfeiting can have lasting effects on an individual’s record. It is considered a serious offense. Having it on one’s record can affect future employment opportunities and other aspects of their life.

So to understand the laws better, you can consult with a coin dealer litigation attorney who is well-versed in counterfeit money laws and regulations. They will be able to guide how to avoid legal trouble related to counterfeit nickels.

A Counterfeit Nickel Is Not Worth the Trouble

While a counterfeit nickel may seem insignificant, the consequences of using or distributing one are not. From federal offenses and heavy fines to imprisonment and property seizure, the legal ramifications are severe. It is important to always be aware of the laws surrounding counterfeit money and seek help from professionals if needed.

Remember, it’s never worth risking your record for a fake nickel. So always be cautious and make sure to properly verify the authenticity of any coins in your possession.

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