Counterfeit bills are showing up among Lamar retail stores this month. Daily summation reports from the Lamar Police Department and Prowers County Sheriff’s Office have indicated one or two events for the past several weeks; perhaps as many as a dozen have been reported since the first discovery of false currency.
Retailers are impacted more than the general public and Lamar Police Chief, Kyle Miller, says that the easiest way to identify counterfeit bills is through a watermark or holograph that runs through the bill. “You can see it on a hundred dollar bill that the face of Benjamin Franklin will show up on that strip the same as it is on the bill when you hold it up to a light,” he explained. Chief Miller said other indicators are from the feel of real money versus a copy; the face on the real bills is made up of very clear and distinct dots while the counterfeit ones tend to flow together. He added there are special ink pens, similar to a magic marker than can be rubbed over a strip of the paper which shows a specific color when counterfeit.
The most common bills used are $20s and $100s, “So far they are being used on smaller priced items,” he explained, adding that trying to track down who is passing them is a labor intensive project. “If they’re passed at a Walmart store, it takes a while to go through all the transactions to trace a counterfeit. We have to look at a timeline when a particular bill was passed to a check-out person and trace it back from there to a person who had the money.” He said it becomes even more difficult to trace if the money has gone from the store to a bank. Chief Miller said there isn’t enough of a trend at this time to determine if someone local is using the counterfeit bills as opposed to someone who may be in Lamar for a day or two and then travel to other communities to make more buying runs. He also said the activity isn’t tied directly to the approaching holiday season. “We’ve had instances one or two summers ago when we came upon people who were just copying the bills and trying to pass it off as real currency.” In this instance, crime isn’t taking the holiday off.
Chief Miller said the Treasury Department or Secret Service can provide information or posters on how to spot and deal with counterfeit bills. Retailers may want to see how available they are, to use as a training guide for their employees.
By Russ Baldwin
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