The term counterfeiting covers a whole gambit of different crimes each with varying severities and penalties.
To be clear, counterfeiting art or other valuable products is covered under trademark laws and not a federal crime. Counterfeiting that is covered under federal law is the creation of fake documents that defraud the government themselves. Some of these items are:
- Postage and meters.
- Military documents.
- Patent letters.
- Shipping paperwork.
- Seals from federal government agencies.
- Documents issued by federal financial institutions like credit unions, and the FDIC.
- Legal documents, like power of attorney and other documents where someone benefits.
- Bonds, bids, contracts, proposals and affidavits used to defraud the government.
- Government documents of various types.
Crimes of this nature generally take place on an international level which further involves the federal government and sometimes cooperation with other countries and their government officials.
There are also crimes associated with counterfeiting that may be prosecuted in a federal court such as:
- Utterance, using a counterfeit document as legal.
- Being in possession of counterfeiting tools.
- The possession of counterfeit materials.
- Producing or selling of any type of counterfeit coins or money.
- Removal or alteration of VINs from vehicles.
- Trafficking in counterfeit materials or goods.
Additional charges may be applied beyond this list if you are caught counterfeiting.
Coincidently, crimes, where a fake piece of art or other valuable item does fall under federal jurisdiction, is when there is false documentation about the item, then it becomes counterfeiting.
The punishment for counterfeiting is pretty steep and may include fines up to $250,000 and twenty-five years in federal prison. If the financial gain was substantial, the fines might be extended up to double the amount gained and more prison time may be added as well.
Determining the proper punishment for counterfeiting is based on a few factors such as how much financial gain was realized through the crime and did anyone else suffer a financial loss as a result. Counterfeiting is considered a very serious crime, and the federal government of the United States issues harsh penalties for these types of crimes.