January 17, 2007 Edition

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Counterfeit bills problem in area

Gretchen Hunt

Law enforcement officials and area banks and stores are having to find new ways to distinguish counterfeit bills as technology has advanced and counterfeiters have found new ways to make fake money look real.

Patrolman Randy Riggs of the Walnut Ridge Police Department said they have had several reports of counterfeit bills, including two $100 bills brought to Regions Bank on Jan. 2 and 3.

"Good counterfeit bills used to be rare," Riggs said. "Now people can do a lot with technology."

He said the best thing people can do is familiarize themselves with what the bills should look like or shouldn't look like.

Peggy Stuart, assistant cashier at First National Bank in Walnut Ridge, agreed, emphasizing that a lot of times the backs are not as well done as the fronts.

"The backs of the counterfeit bills we've been receiving have been more gray than green," Stuart said.

Other tips she shared were to compare how the paper feels and to look for the security strip by holding it up to the light. She also said on the newer bills the large number in the corner will appear to change colors as you roll the bill on authentic currency.

Stuart said the marking pens that have been used are not always accurate, and they can provide both false negative and false positive results.

"The bills could be laundered," she said, which would make the pen read that the bill is good when really it is not.

Riggs said individuals who think passing off counterfeit money is funny or a prank need to know that it is a federal offense with stiff penalties.

He said he knows it is harder for businesses and individuals to recognize a counterfeit bill because there are different styles of legitimate money in circulation, and some of the newer bills are stranger looking. His advice to all is to be wary.

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