High Point, NC -- The High Point Police Department confirms the investigation is ongoing into who has been using counterfeit bills at a dozen High Point stores in recent months. Capt. Michael Kirk told News 2 a number of arrests have been made surrounding the recent usage of the counterfeit bills.
A detective with the police department's financial crimes unit confirmed though there are about one or two incidents of counterfeit bills reported each week in High Point, these latest crimes have happened much more frequently than normal and at the same locations.
Due to the ongoing investigation in collaboration with local secret service, Kirk could not disclose specifically the identify of the suspects arrested, how many are in custody or whether they are suspected to have been working in collaboration with one other. Kirk did tell News 2 where the majority of the fraudulent activity has occurred. He said people have been using counterfeit money at stores at the 2200 block of Westchester and on Main Street in High Point. Some of the specific stores include McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Dollar General and CVS.
Most of the counterfeit bills seized from High Point stores have been $20s or $100s, according to the police department.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury provides advice for people who suspect they have been handed a counterfeit bill. The department strongly encourages people not to return the suspicious bill to the passer, to observe the passer's description and write down a vehicle license plate number, if possible. It also says to contact local police or local U.S. Secret Service office and to write down initials and date in the white border area of the suspected counterfeit note. Lastly, it instructs people not to handle the bill but to instead place it in a plastic bag or envelope until it is safely in the hands of law enforcement.
News 2 spoke with High Point police detective Kim Rieson Wednesday. Rieson said if people realize they have been issued a counterfeit bill, they should be cooperative with authorities, who may ask to assess the remainder of cash in their wallets. Stores should utilize counterfeit bill detection measures to ensure they report fraudulent activity immediately when it happens, or else their chances of getting reimbursed for the counterfeit bill are diminished. She said store owners never should give the counterfeit bill back to the customer who is attempting to issue it.
Rieson showed News 2 how fake bills often are thinner and more paper-like than real bills. She said counterfeit pens aren't always effective, as some counterfeit bill producers know how to make the threads on fake bills undetectable by the pens. The best way to determine whether a bill is real or fake, as she demonstrated to News 2, is to see whether the green emblem has a cooper tint when it is turned upright. Real bills have this copper tint, and fake ones do not. She said the tint of the emblem is produced by a special government machine and cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
Rieson also said a new $100 bill, which will be released soon, is designed with a 3-D blue security ribbon. When tilting the ribbon back and forth, consumers can focus on the blue ribbon while seeing the bill's bells change to 100s as they move. The Federal Reserve Board has announced the new $100 bill will begin circulating on Oct. 8.