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More in Crime
Businesses beware of counterfeit bills
AREA — Local police say businesses in the area should be aware of people using counterfeit money to make purchases, especially with $10 and $20 bills.
"Businesses should check their money," says Lieutenant Michael Ward of the Oxford Police Department.
"It happens, unfortunately," Ward said of the crime.
"People are making fake bills and passing them around."
Ward said he is currently investigating an incident on Pottle Road where a handful of vendors at the Oxford Fair received counterfeit money.
He said police have yet to track any suspects in the case. He said this is the first time he's aware of counterfeit bills being detected at the fair.
"It could've been anybody from anywhere in the country, especially coming to a fair," he pointed out.
Ward said he doesn't deal with counterfeit cases on a regular basis, but businesses should still be aware of people using fake bills to make purchases.
"We want area businesses to be aware that there is fake money out there," he said.
Norway Police Chief Robert Federico agrees that businesses should always try to monitor the use of fake bills.
Federico said the last counterfeit case he dealt with in Norway was in 2010. Someone also tried to use a fake $20 bill at a local business in Oxford at the same time.
"It was pretty clear the two [cases] were related," Federico said.
He said most of the time counterfeit bills are generated from one source and likely, if it's a "big-time criminal," they know to not stick around in one area for too long or they are going to get caught.
Detecting fake bills
There are a number of ways to detect counterfeit money, said Lieutenant Ward.
"There are certain things you can pick out on the bill, like a water mark or the size," he explains. "The size of the [counterfeit] bills we get are different than an actual bill."
According to Federico, businesses should mostly be aware of $10 and $20 bills, as they are faked more often than $50 and $100 bills. However, those, too, should be examined for fraud, he said.
"[We] don't see many counterfeit ones or fives," said Ward.
He also agrees with Federico that $50 and $100 counterfeit bills aren't used as frequently as $20 bills.
"Your store owners are most likely to check a $50 bill or $100 bill more thoroughly than they are a $20 or a $10," he said.
He said examining all bills, however, could prevent a counterfeit $20 from slipping into the cash register.
Federico said knowing how to detect counterfeit cash saves businesses and the police handling the case a lot of trouble.
He agrees with Ward that if businesses aren't vigilant with checking their cash, counterfeit bills can get put into the cash register then circulate to other businesses and individuals.
"The further it gets away from the original person, the much harder it's going to be for us to solve who did it," Federico explains.
The bills he's seen in the past were easy to detect because of their poor quality, he said, but with technology improving, it's not always the case.
It's also hard to know when a counterfeit bill might pop up.
"They seem to come in spurts," said Federico. "It seems like nothing for a long, long time and all of a sudden there's a whole flurry of activity with counterfeits."
Paris Police Chief David Verrier said counterfeit money isn't prevalent in Paris, but did recall that some students tried to pass off counterfeit money as real money at the high school a couple years ago.
He said at most businesses he's checked on, he noticed the employees do use a counterfeit money detector pen to verify the bill is real, especially if they are skeptical.
The big difference between a real dollar bill and a fake one, said Verrier, is the "feel" of it. "It doesn't really feel like money," he said.
"There's horsehair within the money that you can see," he explained. "Holding it up to the light, you can tell."
The problem, said Verrier, is businesses don't pay close enough attention to the money they receive. He said all it takes is close monitoring of money to prevent the business from getting "ripped off."
According to Verrier, the key is for cashiers to be slow and observant when taking money from customers.
"It's very difficult to track down," he said of counterfeit money. "To figure out where it came from is nearly impossible for businesses, especially if they've had a busy week."