Counterfeit case puts businesses on alert

Jamie Hult, Staff writer
Counterfeit bills have been circulating Brandon – again. 
The Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce received word of an incident during the holidays and alerted area businesses to be on the lookout. 
Brandon Police Chief Dave Kull said the bills passed at a restaurant,  were very low quality and likely made by a local resident on a home copier.
“There are some better efforts that have been made. Some are very good,” Kull said. “Any time someone pays with larger denominations – $50, $100 bills – especially when they make a small purchase, make sure all the markings are correct.”
Kull said the watermark can be tricky. 
“We’ve seen some where they took a $5 bill, bleached it out and put a $100 bill on top. The watermark is still there, but you see Abe Lincoln instead of Benny,” he said. 
The Secret Service is tasked with counterfeit money and keeps track of serial numbers on bills to see if they repeat. 
Kull said last week’s case in Brandon was an isolated incident. 
“They have not shown up anywhere else and they were produced locally,” he said. 
He would not say if there is a suspect in last week’s fraud attempt but said the investigation is ongoing. 
Brandon Lane, BVACC’s membership director, alerted Chamber-member businesses.
“It’s more of a precautionary measure, a heads-up to businesses, maybe a nice fresher-upper for employees,” Lane said. 
He provided tips from the Secret Service and U.S. Treasury on detecting counterfeit bills:
• Hold a bill up to a light and look for a holograph of the face image on the bill. Both images should match. If the $100 bill has been bleached, the hologram will display an image of Abraham Lincoln, who appears on the $5 bills, instead of Benjamin Franklin.
• Looking at the bill through a light will also reveal a thin vertical strip containing text that spells out the bill’s denomination.
• Color-shifting ink: If you hold the new series bill (except the $5 note) and tilt it back and forth, observe the numeral in the lower right-hand corner as its color shifts from green to black and back.
• Watermark: Hold the bill up to a light to view the watermark in an unprinted space to the right of the portrait. The watermark can be seen from both sides of the bill since it is not printed on the bill but is embedded in the paper.
• Security thread: Hold the bill up to a light to view the security thread. You will see a thin imbedded strip running from top to bottom on the face of a banknote. In the $10 and $50 bills, the security strip is located to the right of the portrait, and in the $5, $20 and $100 bills, it is located just to the left of the portrait.
• Ultraviolet glow: If the bill is held up to an ultraviolet light, the $5 bill glows blue; the $10 bill glows orange, the $20 bill glows green, the $50 bill glows yellow, and the $100 bill glows red if they are authentic.
• Microprinting: There are minute microprintings on the security threads. The $5 bill has “USA FIVE” written on the thread, the $10 bill has “USA TEN” written on the thread, the $20 bill has “USA TWENTY” written on the thread, the $50 bill has “USA 50” written on the thread and the $100 bill has the words “USA 100” written on the security thread. Microprinting can be found around the portrait, as well as on the security threads.
• Fine line printing patterns: Very fine lines have been added behind the portrait and on the reverse side scene to make it harder to reproduce.
• Comparison: Compare the feel and texture of the paper with other bills you know are authentic.
Counterfeit is a class 6 felony punishable by a maximum of two years in prison and $4,000 fine.


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