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If someone were to find a way to make exact forgery of currency (in such a way that it would be impossible for anyone to find that it's counterfeit), would there be any prohibition to do so (except Dina Dmalchusa)?

What if you live in a country without counterfeiting rules (say a country that wouldn't mind if someone forged the currency of its enemy) as then there would be no Dina Dmalchusa?

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3 Answers 3

Anytime that you purchase something using anything that you claim has value, but in fact is not what it appears, you are guilty of fraud and theft, both of which are Isurei DeOraitha (Biblical prohibitions). It has nothing to do with whether or not the country you are in considers it a felony or a misdemeanor, or even if it is encouraged as an economic weapon against its enemies.

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@ShmuelBrill, assuming it's never detected, adding money to the money supply that didn't exist before constitutes inflation, devaluing everyone else's money by a little bit. Whether that constitutes theft is perhaps an interesting question. –  Isaac Moses Dec 8 '11 at 21:34
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@IsaacMoses #1, My question is assuming one could do a perfect copy. Not very realistic, though possible. #2, you're right (that inflation maybe a form of stealing, though how much does counterfeiting influence inflation is another question), though that itself could be an answer. –  Shmuel Brin Dec 8 '11 at 21:48
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@ShmuelBrill It is still fraud even if the recipient accepts it. Fraud works because the victim of the crime believes there is relative value in the transaction and participates willingly. Just because the victim would not know the difference does not negate the fact that a fraud was committed. If it were a different case, would you still ask the question? If you could commit the perfect crime, stealing a million-dollar diamond from a museum and replacing it with a replica that would never be detected, and then benefit from the real thing, would it be permissible 'Al Pi Halachah? No, no, no! –  Seth J Dec 8 '11 at 21:55
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I would think this would fall under the commandment to have honest weights and measures, which as the commentaries explain there, applies even if (or perhaps specifically because) no one can tell the difference –  Menachem Dec 9 '11 at 1:16
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". Except instead of the Government printing it, you did." Which means it is not a piece of paper worth $20, but rather a piece of paper worth Jail time. –  avi Dec 11 '11 at 17:24
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Counterfeiting money is definitely assur, prohibited, by Halacha.

Why? Just off the top of my head (I'm going to Wiki this, so feel free to add answers and sources):

  • Vayikra 19:11 "לֹא, תִּגְנֹבוּ; וְלֹא-תְכַחֲשׁוּ וְלֹא-תְשַׁקְּרוּ, אִישׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ." "Don't steal, deal falsely, or lie."
  • מִדְּבַר-שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק (Prohibition against lying) [Shemot 23:7]
  • Don't Steal ( Vayikra 19:11 and 19:13)
  • Don't be a false witness (You're implicitly testifying that your money is legal and valid tender.)
  • Don't desecrate God's name (which will surely happen if the forger is caught.)
  • Violation of "Emulating God's Ways"
  • Violation of Vayikra 25:14 ("Do business fairly.")
  • Violation of "keep honest weights and measures."
  • Violation of Genevah Daat ("stealing a person's thoughts")
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IIRC the ten commandments' "don't steal" refers to kidnapping. And we don't generally decide halacha by taking out our chumashim and translating verses. –  msh210 Dec 9 '11 at 18:44
    
Why are you stealing? The recipient of your counterfeit money will be able to use it just as well as real money. –  Shmuel Brin Dec 9 '11 at 19:00
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Not if he realizes after the fact that it's counterfeit. ... Yes, it does refer to kidnapping, which is why I included the other verses. ... Sure we do. All Halacha is based on interpreting verses. And in any event, the Rambam lists all of those in his List of Mitzvots, as well. –  Shmuel Dec 9 '11 at 19:20
    
@ShmuelL, I didn't say halacha's not decided by translating verses. I said we don't decide halacha by translating verses. So WADR it's insufficient to point to verses in chumash to justify "Counterfeiting money is definitely assur". –  msh210 Dec 9 '11 at 19:50
    
@msh210, what if the question was, "Is it permitted to lie"? –  Seth J Jul 27 '12 at 20:33
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Too much money in the economy leads to inflation, which leads to increased prices, which is in essence just stealing from everybody.

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A source for the assertion that this counts halachically as theft would improve your answer. –  msh210 Jan 10 '12 at 18:49
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@msh210, What do you mean halakhically? Stealing is stealing. Unless you are of the opinion that it is okay to steal from goyim, then there isn't anything to argue. –  Adam Mosheh Jan 10 '12 at 20:21
    
There are halachic parameters of what's considered stealing. Frankly, I doubt that this qualifies; in any event, a source for your assertion that it does would be valuable. –  msh210 Jan 10 '12 at 20:33
    
@msh210 Enlighten me; what are these halakhic parameters of which you speak? –  Adam Mosheh Jan 10 '12 at 20:42
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@Adam Mining, say, gold also leads to inflation (as gold prices go down). How would printing money be different? –  Shmuel Brin Jan 10 '12 at 20:49
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