Having a money tree in your backyard sounds like a great, albeit unrealistic idea. However, some local criminals are making this a reality with counterfeit bills of all denominations.
“Right now counterfeit money is starting to surge again and it’s not just large denominations, but even smaller bills too. It’s really becoming a big problem,” said Middlesboro Police Department Sgt. Eddie Myers.
Fake bills are popping up across the area in convenience stores, government buildings and even ‘big box’ stores.
Crimes of a counterfeit nature are investigated by local police, but sometimes also with the United States Secret Service. Fraud or forgery can cost a criminal up to $250,000 in fines and jail or prison time.
Several precautions have been taken by the federal government to prevent counterfeit money in circulation.
Many common differences between real and counterfeit money can be seen in the size of the bill and even the quality of the printing on it. If the ink on the bill runs or smudges when wet, it has been printed on a home-quality ink jet printer and is definitely a fake.
Real money is printed on a fabric-like paper with strands of red and blue thread running throughout. It will have holographic symbols or stripes across the bill in various places — marks which are difficult for counterfeiters to recreate.
To help deter criminals from using fake money, a special counterfeit pen can be used to mark the bill. If the pen mark turns dark brown or black, the bill is a fake but if the mark stays yellowish, it is a real bill. Ultraviolet light will also highlight a special strip inside a real bill that runs vertically and cannot be seen with the naked eye away from the UV light.
“We’ve been encouraging local businesses to take extra precautionary steps to make sure they check the money that they get. It’s not just $100’s and $50’s anymore, but smaller bills like $20’s and $10’s, too,” said Myers.
If you are suspicious of having counterfeit money or being given counterfeit money, take it to the local police department or bank to check authenticity.
Reach Kelsey Gerhardt at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.