Counterfeit Money Circulating in SW Michigan

CASS COUNTY, MI – Sheriff Joseph M. Underwood Jr. reports that the Cass County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind businesses and consumers to watch for counterfeit money circulating in and around the area. Sheriff

At the current time, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office has not taken any counterfeit money complaints recently, but agencies in St. Joseph County, Van Buren County and Kalamazoo County as well as Agencies all along the I-94 and I-96 corridor stretching east to Oakland County have. Businesses have been victim to an individual or group of individuals using counterfeit $20, $50 and $100 dollar bills.

Here are a few things you can do to look for counterfeit bills.

Feel the texture of the paper. Counterfeit money will often feel distinctly different from authentic money.

•Authentic money is made from cotton and linen fibers. This differs significantly from normal paper, which is made from trees. Real money is made to be more durable and should feel crisp despite its age; normal paper becomes torn and soft when worn.

•The paper that banknotes are printed on is not sold commercially. Also, the chemical composition of the paper and ink is confidential. Even if you do not have much experience in spotting a counterfeit, you should notice a clear difference in texture.

•Genuine currency has slightly raised ink that is produced in the intaglio printing process. You should be able to feel the texture of this ink, especially if you are holding a new dollar bill.

•Run your fingernail over the portrait’s vest of the bill. You should feel distinctive ridges. Counterfeiters cannot reproduce this.

Notice the thinness of the bill. Genuine money is often thinner than counterfeit money.

•The process for making money involves applying thousands of pounds of pressure during the printing process. As a result, real money should feel thinner and crisper than regular paper.

•The only option available to most counterfeiters is to use thin rag paper, which can be purchased at most office supply stores. Still, this paper should feel thicker than authentic money.

Compare the bill with another of the same denomination and series. Different denominations will look different, so get a note of the same amount. •If you are still suspicious about the quality of a bill, holding it next to a bill you know is authentic may help you feel a difference.

•All denominations, except the $1 and $2, have been redesigned at least once since 1990, so it is best to compare the suspect bill to one in the same series, or date.
•While the look of money has changed over the years, the distinctive feel has been left largely unchanged. The feel of a bill made 50 years ago should feel similar to a brand new dollar bill.

Inspect the printing quality. Fake bills tend to have a relative flatness and lack of detail. Because making real currency involves printing methods that are unknown and therefore extremely hard to replicate, counterfeiters are often forced to improvise.

•Real U.S. bills are printed using techniques that regular offset printing and digital printing (the most popular tools for common counterfeiters) cannot replicate. Look for blurry areas, especially in fine details such as around the borders.

•Look for colored fibers in the paper. All U.S. bills have tiny red and blue fibers embedded in the paper. Counterfeiters sometimes try to reproduce these by printing or drawing these fibers onto the paper. As a result, the blue and red fibers will appear to be printed on the paper instead of being part of the paper itself.

Look at the borders. The outside border of real money should be “clear and unbroken,” according to Secret Service officials.

•On Federal Reserve and Treasury seals, the saw-tooth points of the borders should be sharp and well-defined on genuine bills. Seals on a counterfeit bill often have uneven, blunt, or broken saw-tooth points.

•Look for bleeding ink. Because of the difference in printing methods between real and fake bills, the border ink can sometimes bleed on a fake.

Look at the borders. The outside border of real money should be “clear and unbroken,” according to Secret Service officials. •On Federal Reserve and Treasury seals, the saw-tooth points of the borders should be sharp and well-defined on genuine bills. Seals on a counterfeit bill often have uneven, blunt, or broken saw-tooth points.

•Look for bleeding ink. Because of the difference in printing methods between real and fake bills, the border ink can sometimes bleed on a fake.

Examine the serial numbers. There should be two serial numbers located on the face of the bill on either side of the portrait. Look at the bill carefully and make sure that the serial numbers match.

•Look at the color of the serial numbers on the bill and compare it to the color of the Treasury Seal. If they do not match, the bill is likely a fake.

•Fake bills may have serial numbers that are not evenly spaced or that are not perfectly aligned in a row.

•If you receive multiple suspicious bills, see if the serial numbers are the same on across all bills. Counterfeiters often neglect to change serial numbers on fake bills. If they are the same, then they are counterfeit notes.

Hold the bill up to the light. For all bills except $1 and $2 dollar bills, there should be a security thread (plastic strip) running from top to bottom.

•The thread is embedded in (not printed on) the paper and runs vertically through the clear field to the left of the Federal Reserve Seal. On authentic bills, this should be easily visible against a light source.

•The printing should say “USA” followed by the denomination of the bill, which is spelled out for $10 and $20 bills but presented in numerals on the $5, $50 and $100 bills. These threads are placed in different places on each denomination to prevent lower-denomination bills being bleached and reprinted as higher denominations.

•You should be able to read the inscriptions from both the front or back of the note. Also, it should only be visible against a light source.

Check for watermarks. Use natural light to see if your bill bears an image of the person whose portrait is on the bill. •Hold the bill up to a light to check for a watermark. A watermark bearing the image of the person whose portrait is on the bill can be found on all $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills series 1996 and later, and on $5 bills series 1999 and later.

•The watermark is embedded in the paper to the right of the portrait and should be visible from both sides of the bill.

Examine the micro-printing. This includes small words or numbers that are hardly visible to the naked eye and cannot be read without a magnifying glass.

•Beginning in 1990, very tiny printing was added to certain places (which have periodically been changed since then) on $5 and higher denomination bills.

•Don’t worry about a specific location. Since micro-printing is hard to duplicate, counterfeits usually tend not to have any.

•Counterfeits with micro-printing tend to have blurred letters or numbers. On a genuine bill, the micro-printing will be crisp and clear.

And least of all look for very obvious indicators. I have personally seen some very poor attempts to copy bills on a copy machine. The bill is not centered on the paper or is slightly crooked within the boarders. The color of the ink is very different then a normal bill. The color of the paper it is printed on is white and not green. The ink runs when you rub it or it gets wet.

If you have a bill in your possession and are unsure of its authenticity, follow these steps to certify the real value of your money. It is illegal to possess, produce, or use counterfeit money; if a prosecutor can prove that you have intent to defraud, federal law can punish you with a fine and maximum 20 years in prison.

If you acquire a counterfeit banknote, you must turn it in to the appropriate authorities. If you have any question about it’s authenticity, take it to a bank or financial institution and have them examine it for you. At the least you may be one of the very lucky few that has come across a rare and valuable misprinted bill that was not taken out of circulation, but it is much more likely that you have come across a fake.

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