Fake Money Costing Victims, How to Avoid Counterfeits

11:35 PM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Counterfeit bills continue to be a concern for local law enforcement; it can also be a problem for you if you wind up with one.

Let's say you come across a fake $20 and you report it to Police. When you turn the bill over, you won't get reimbursed for it. Police will keep it for evidence and you're left without the money. Making matters worse, investigators will file a report saying you were in possession of counterfeit money.

Funny money is popping up across the Piedmont. Winston-Salem Police showed us a stack of fake $20 they've collected. There are 27 bills totaling $540 in fake money. Even up close, it might be hard to tell they're not real.

Some bills are so close to the real thing, even those pens you see cashiers using to mark them won't detect the phonies. Experts say they look legit because the paper is real. Sophisticated criminals are washing the ink off smaller bills and printing a bigger amount.

"This could be a $1 bill and you've reprinted a $20 over top of it so if you take this to a clerk at the store and they grab it and just run a pen over it, it's a $1 bill," said Winston-Salem Police Detective Jeffrey Thompson. "It's the same fabric you'd have with a $20 bill."

So far this year, the Financial Crimes Unit of the Winston-Salem Police Department has investigated 104 cases of counterfeit bills. That's slightly higher, compared to this time last year.

So how does all of this affect you?
Many people say they don't use cash so it doesn't bother them, but all that funny money floating around affects everyone.

"If a business is continually taking in counterfeit money, that's a loss to them and they're going to raise their prices and it's just going to get passed off to the consumer," said Thompson.

Police say the $20 is the most counterfeited because it's so common, many cashiers usually don't take a second look at it. The best advice police have is know what a real bill looks and feels like so you know how to spot a fake.

There are a few ways to know for sure. First, hold your bill up to the light. There's a security thread inside that runs from top to bottom on the left side. You should also see a hologram of the president's face on the right side.

Also, the $20 is printed with color-shifting ink so it will change colors when you move it. Finally, if you look very closely, you can see red and blue microfibers embedded throughout the paper.

WFMY News 2

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