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‘Tis the season to look out for counterfeit money

Posted: 5:07 AM, Dec 12, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-12 08:14:38-05

‘Tis the season for giving, and that might involve counterfeit money.With the holiday shopping season upon us, merchants and even consumers may want to make sure the money they are receiving is real.

While many shoppers have opted to pay for their items with credit cards, businesses are still being warned to check the bills.

Local law enforcement is urging everyone, including shoppers and retailers, to be more careful when handling money during the festive season.

“There are a lot more transactions going on this time of year, and there are lines that merchants want to move along to get the line going so they have more of a tendency to accept whatever bills they are handed. So, it is important to be aware of the fact that there are a lot of counterfeit bills in circulation,” said Detective Marcus Garanzuay.

Some fake bills are easier to spot than others, but Detective Marcus Garanzuay, with the Corpus Christi Police Department, says you can always check by looking at the security features.

“Learn and recognize and train as far as the security features of bills. The reason for this is because more and more counterfeiters’  technique involves bleaching of legitimate bills and making them appear to be denominations of a large bill. And for this reason, the counterfeit detection pens are not totally accurate and indicate you have a legitimate bill when, in fact, it’s a bleached counterfeit bill,” said Garanzuay.

It’s not just counterfeit bills; over the past few years there’s been an uptick in prop money being used as well.

“These find their way into the public and are being circulated with criminals trying to test their luck with them,” said Garanzuay.

The biggest advice: to carefully look at the money you receive.

“Make it a habit to check bills just for a few seconds, otherwise your business takes the burden of the loss as well as any goods of services that are provided to the person that paid with a fake bill,” said Garanzuay.

There are several ways to detect if money is counterfeit. This comes in the form of smeared ink, uneven edges, some are two sided that are two separate sides of the bill that are stuck together using two sided tape.

There are unique markings and watermarks and also color changing ink. And if all fails, you can take the money to your local bank.

The Secret Service estimates there are $9 million in counterfeit bills circulating in the United States.

The Police Department says during the past year, they’ve seen an uptick in prop money being used. If you take a close look, it will say “for motion picture use only.” Detective Garanzuay says when it comes to counterfeit money, at face value it looks real.

When someone tries to pass money like that, the charge is forgery by counterfeiting which is a third-degree felony.

Prop money and Asian character money is theft, rather than counterfeit, because the printing on the note makes it clear that it is not trying to appear to be legitimate currency.

The Federal Reserve encourages merchants and consumers to know your money.  Click here for more information.