More counterfeit money turns up in Catawba Co.
HICKORY, NC (WBTV) – It has been a growing problem for the past month with more than two dozen counterfeit bills turning up in Catawba County and it continued this past weekend in Hickory.
Fake $20 bills turned up at a Food Lion Grocery store, the Chick-fil-a restaurant on Highway 70 and at the Mighty Dollar discount store in Mountain View.
No suspects have been caught and in most cases, say authorities, the person passing the phony money is a victim themselves.
At the Mighty Dollar, the one passing the money told the store she didn't know it was fake. She said someone had asked her for change and gave her the $20 bill.
Authorities are not sure if it is one operation or several that is printing the counterfeits. Most are in denominations of ten and twenties but there have been a few fake $100 bills too, they said.
In some cases, $1 bills have been acid washed and reprinted with a new denomination. That allows the bill the be able to pass the "pen" test where a special ink is applied to the bill to determine if it is real or fake.
"They can pass that test but not the security stripe test," said Hickory Police Investigator Rob Burwell.
United States Currency has a stripe imbedded in each bill that says what denomination it is. That strike is very difficult to reproduce so most counterfeits seized across the country do not have one.
The strike can be seen by holding a flashlight near the end of the left side of a bill while it is face up. Special fraud devices can be used to detect it as well.
Businesses are checking bills carefully since the rash of fake bills began last month. Still, said authorities, when stores are busy sometimes the bills still get through to the cash register.
If that happens, the stores do not get reimbursed when a bank discovered the fakes.
"It's just like stealing from us," said Mighty Dollar Assistant Manager Jesse Bailey. "They might as well fill up a bag with stuff and just walk out the door."
Authorities are warning everyone to take a close look at any bills they receive. If they don't look right or feel right, don't accept them, they say.
Any fakes that are found should be turned in to local law enforcement. The U.S. Secret Service is working with law enforcement on the problem.
Anyone caught making the counterfeits could face substantial fines and prison time.
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