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August 26th, 2013
06:38 PM ET

Printing error botches new $100 bills, could cost taxpayers $4 million

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is reinspecting 30 million brand new $100 bills after the Federal Reserve deemed them unusable because of a printing error.

After a decade of research and development, the so-called money factory designed a new Benjamin that should have been released hands in 2011.

"It's certainly one of the most valuable bills to counterfeit," said Benjamin Mazzotta, a currency expert at Tufts University.

The mint was supposed to print a new design back in 2011. But they keep botching the bill. The first batch ended up with a blank spot, and the second round was lifted by thieves on their way to the Federal Reserve, and now there is a problem with excess ink.

"Ironically it appears to be any of those advanced features themselves which are causing the problem. It's the way the paper they are using for this generation of printing is responding to the weight of the printing press," said Mazzotta.

The error could cost taxpayers about $4 million because the current bill costs 7.8 cents to produce, compared to 12.6 cents for the new one.

New security features include a blue ribbon that is woven into the middle of the bill with alternating 100s, liberty bells that move when the bill is tilted, and an image of a copper inkwell that contains a liberty bell inside it that turns green when the bill is moved.

"If you're in the business of counterfeiting, every year that they don't release this, is a year that you can pass your old-fashioned $100 bills that much easier," said Mazzotta.

The government says crisp new bills should be ready to change hands by October 8, then the arms race against counterfeiters begins again.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing told CNN Monday less than 1% of the $100 bills shipped were affected. The bureau plans to send the bulk of that batch back to the Federal Reserve, and the Fed does have a sufficient supply to release on October 8th.

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin appearing on a $100 bill.

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