Police warn of counterfeit bills making the rounds, again

Police took this photo of a counterfeit $100 bill passed at a business in St. George, Utah, June 2017| Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With an influx in counterfeit $100 bills being passed in the area, officials are reminding citizens to be alert and know how to identify the fake currency.

Police took this photo of a counterfeit $100 bill passed at a business in St. George, Utah, June 2017| Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

The Mesquite Police Department confirmed Wednesday that investigators have recently seen an increase in counterfeit $100 bills circulating in Mesquite, prompting the department to issue an alert for the public to be on the lookout when accepting large bills.

In St. George, police have investigated 56 cases of counterfeiting activity this year, including several incidents over the last few months, St. George Police Officer Lona Trombley said Thursday.

“We want to encourage everyone – not just the business – in our community to learn what clues to look for in identifying a counterfeit bill,” Trombley said. She recommends visiting the U.S. Currency Education Program website to learn how to spot a fake bill.

According to the site, businesses and individuals can better protect themselves from unwittingly receiving counterfeit bills 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.

Oftentimes, if someone doesn’t look closely at a fake bill being exchanged, they are unable to tell it’s counterfeit.

In bills issued from 1996 to 2013, individuals can take the following steps to help spot a fake $100 bill.

Notice the color-shifting ink. Tilt the note to see the numeral “100” in the lower-right corner of the front of the bill shift from green to black.

Look for the portrait watermark. Hold the bill to light and look for a faint image of Benjamin Franklin in the blank space to the right of the portrait. The image is visible from both sides of the bill.

U.S. $100 note | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Currency Education Program website, St. George News

Take note of the security thread. Hold the bill to light to see an embedded thread running vertically to the left of the portrait. The thread is imprinted with the letters “USA” and the numeral “100” in an alternating pattern and is visible from both sides of the bill. The thread glows pink when illuminated by ultraviolet light.

Feel for raised printing. Move your finger along the bill’s surface to feel the raised printing, which gives genuine Federal Reserve notes their distinctive texture.

Spot the microprinting. Look carefully – magnification may be necessary – to see the small printed text “USA 100” within the numeral in the lower left corner and “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” in the line in the left lapel of Franklin’s coat.

Businesses can also use a security pen 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.

As it is illegal to knowingly pass a counterfeit bill, police are asking anyone who comes across one of the fake bills to get as much information possible about the person passing the bill and call your local police department immediately.


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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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1 Comment

  • Caveat_Emptor November 10, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Having just sold a motorcycle for several thousand dollars, in cash, I went straight to the bank with the $100 bills. Cashier’s Checks have known risks, thanks to high definition printing, and Photoshop……..
    The comfort level of accepting cash is best achieved by knowing a little bit about the buyer, before doing business. It is unlikely that someone buying a motor vehicle would knowingly risk using counterfeit currency, because there are plenty of ways to track them down for DMV fraud, and the FBI will be interested in their bills.
    Let’s be honest here, it is tricky to identify a good counterfeit bill, unless you have some training. Your typical big box cashier may use a security pen, as mentioned above, but in the interest of customer service, they seldom use them. A bank teller has typically been trained to spot these bills, so they are a perfect proxy.

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