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Local merchants report counterfeit bills recently passed

Displayed in the larger photo is the counterfeit money lacking the watermark found in genuine bills.
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Treasury

Sun Advocate community editor

A counterfeit $20 was recently passed at a local convenience store promoting local retailers and law enforcement to take notice. The bill did not have the tell-tale magnetic strip or watermark and was discovered by a store employee after the business had already received the bill.

Matters related to counterfeit money are investigated chiefly by the United States Department of the Treasury and the secret service, however, there are time that local law officials end up making the arrests.

"When the local department is informed we contact the treasury immediately," said Price City Police Chief Aleck Shilaos. "They then let us know whether they want us to investigate the incident and a lot of times they do."

Shilaos reported that local authorities have made arrests concerning the passing of counterfeit money as recently as six months ago.

"Once we make an arrest then federal and state attornies make the decision on whether they want to file federal or state charges depending on the particular situation," continued the Price police chief.

While arrests have been made in the last half year, the Eastern Utah Community Credit Union reported that they had not seen any counterfeit bills for at least the last year.

"People usually don't try to pass them at a financial institution," said EUCCU Operations Vice President Terri Lott. "We haven't seen any for at least a year and the last one that was brought in was by personal deposit."

For law enforcement, one difficulty connected with investigating counterfeit is that the first person caught with the "funny money" usually isn't the one who made it.

"The gentleman who brought in the deposit didn't know where he had gotten the bill and didn't have anymore than the one," said Lott.

The local credit union institutes many checking techniques to verify the validity of the bills they receive.

"We use counting machines that check every denomination of bill in addition to using counterfeit pens and black lights," explained Lott. "If a bill is brought into any financial institution there is a high probability that it will be discovered."

The secret service ask for the help of the public in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency and makes the following statement via their website at "The public has a role in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency. You can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with currency."

The site makes these recommendations for detecting counterfeit bills.

•Portrait, the genuine portrait appears like and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background which is often too dark or mottled.

•Federal reserve and treasury seals, on a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the federal reserve and treasury seals are clear, distinct and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt or broken saw-tooth points.

•Border, the fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scroll-work may by blurred and indistinct.

•Serial number, genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial number are printed in the same ink color as the treasury seal. On a counterfeit, the serial number may differ in color or shad of ink from the seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.

•Paper, genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines in their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of U.S. currency.

If residents or merchants detect a fake bill, the secret service recommends that they:

•Do not return it to the passer.

•Delay the passer if possible.

•Observe the passer's description, as well as that of any companions and the license plate numbers of any vehicles used.

•Contact the police immediately.

•Limit the handling of the bill and carefully place it in a protective covering such as an envelope.

More detailed information regarding counterfeit money can be found on the site.

The convenient store where the bill was received uses pens to check larger bills, however both police and citizens interviewed by the paper report that not all merchants are as diligent.

The treasury does not return genuine bills to those who have received counterfeit currency.

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