ALERT: Police warn of counterfeit bills being passed in Washington County

Stock image of counterfeit money, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Police want people to be on the lookout for fake currency that’s making the rounds in Washington County. Over the past few months, police have seen a spike in the number of counterfeit bills that have been passed in the area.

Authorities are encouraging businesses to take extra precautions to help avoid becoming a victim of the fraud, St. George Police said Wednesday.

One of those steps includes having a security pen on hand to check the bills received from customers. The pen is a device used to apply an iodine-based ink to banknotes in an attempt to determine their authenticity. However, authorities said businesses shouldn’t rely solely on the pen.

“Counterfeit detection pens are not always accurate and may give you false results, which is why we recommend relying on security features such as the watermark and security thread,” according to the United States government.

Businesses and the general public can better protect themselves from receiving counterfeit bills, police said, by checking for: security threads, microprinting, watermarks, color-shifting ink, red and blue threading, and if the first letter in the serial number coordinates with the correct year of print.

The current design $100 note is the latest denomination of U.S. currency to be redesigned, and it was issued on Oct. 8, 2013. The current design $100 note features additional security features including a 3-D Security Ribbon and color-shifting Bell in the Inkwell. The $100 note also includes a portrait watermark of Benjamin Franklin that is visible from both sides of the note when held to light | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Government, St. George News
The current design $100 note is the latest denomination of U.S. currency to be redesigned. It was issued on Oct. 8, 2013. The current design $100 note includes additional security features including a 3-D Security Ribbon and color-shifting Bell in the Inkwell. The $100 note also includes a portrait watermark of Benjamin Franklin that is visible from both sides of the note when held to light | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Government, St. George News

The St. George Police Department is asking anyone who suspects a bill may be counterfeit or anyone with information regarding the following counterfeit incidents, to call the police department immediately at 435-627-4300.

March 20

On March 20, at around midnight, an individual attempted to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at the Maverick gas station located at 994 E. St. George Boulevard, authorities said. The cashier recognized the bill as fraudulent but the suspect left prior to officers arriving on scene.

The suspect was described as a white male, between 5’10” and 6′ tall, weighing 170-190 pounds, according to police. The man had short brown hair with “five o’clock shadow” facial hair and was wearing a dark blue shirt.

April 19

At approximately 10:45 a.m. on April 19, officers responded to Wells Fargo bank located at 592 N. Mall Drive where three counterfeit bills had been received by the bank.

Police released this photo of a man suspected of passing a counterfeit $100 bill at Deseret Industries, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News
Police released this photo of a man suspected of passing a counterfeit $100 bill at Deseret Industries, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

Two $100 bills came from stores inside Red Cliffs Mall, police said.

The third counterfeit bill was a $5 bill from a man who said he couldn’t remember where or when he had received the bill, according to police. The suspect is described as being a white male, between 6′ and 6’2″ tall, with a heavy build. The man was bald with some grey patches on the sides of his head and was wearing glasses.

At approximately 5:55 p.m. that same day, officers responded to Deseret Industries located at 2480 E Red Cliffs Drive on a counterfeit report. The store manager told police that a male and female had tried to pass two $100 bills that appeared to be counterfeit.

The male and female went through separate checkout lines when the incident occurred, police said. A photo of the male was obtained and is provided in this report. The counterfeit bills were recovered and added into evidence.

April 20

At around noon on April 20, officers responded to Pretzelmaker located at 1770 E. Red Cliffs Drive in Red Cliffs Mall where a counterfeit $100 bill was passed by a customer. When the customer was questioned by law enforcement, police said, it was determined they were unaware the bill was counterfeit.

According to the U.S. government, if you suspect a counterfeit note or have information about counterfeiting activity, please report it immediately to the U.S. Secret Service, or to your local police.

The government website offers the following tips for anyone who encounters a counterfeit bill:

  1. Do not put yourself in danger
  2. Do not return the bill to the passer
  3. Delay the passer with some excuse, if possible
  4. Observe the passer’s description – and their companions’ descriptions – and write down their vehicle license plate numbers if you can
  5. Contact your local police department or call your local U.S. Secret Service Office
  6. Write your initials and date in the white border area of the suspected counterfeit note
  7. Do not handle the counterfeit note. Place it inside a protective cover, a plastic bag, or envelope to protect it until you place it in the hands of an identified Secret Service Agent
  8. Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or a Secret Service Special Agent, or mail it to your nearest U.S. Secret Service field office

“There is no financial remuneration for the return of the counterfeit bill,” the website states, “but it is doing the ‘right thing’ to help combat counterfeiting.”

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • ladybugavenger May 13, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    How did they get a picture of my basement? haha

  • ladybugavenger May 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    The guys ponytail and his nose are remarkably similar

  • .... May 14, 2016 at 9:33 am

    The picture of your basement was provided by homeland security

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