Skip to content

Funny money is no laughing matter

It might be called “funny money” but counterfeit currency is nothing to laugh about and Park Hills police said Friday the public should be keeping an eye out for the phony bills.

The department encountered its first counterfeit $20 bill of the series the U.S. Treasury Department began circulating last year. It had gone undetected when received by a local government agency sometime this week.

Lieutenant Mark Rigel said discovery of this bogus bill does not necessarily mean there is a lot of counterfeit money circulating in this area.

“This bill could have come from anywhere,” Rigel said. “There is a good chance it did not originate locally.”

The bill that will be turned over to the U.S. Secret Service failed all the tests for a legitimate, new $20 bill, Rigel said. The holograph is not there, the security bar, the quality of the paper, the ink all were not up to the government’s standards.

Rigel said it appeared to have been reproduced on a color copy machine rather than having been computer generated. He based that assumption on the paper and the ink.

“It is not all that bad in quality so far as just taking a casual look at it,” Rigel said. “It could probably have changed hands several times without anybody noticing it unless they examined it closely.”

There were two very distinctive marks on this bill that gave it away quickly to police. One was a mark that had been made on the bill with a special pen used to detect counterfeit currency. If the mark changes colors, the bill is a fake, and this mark had changed colors.

The second distinction was even more evident. On a border of the bill in hand printed letters was the word “fake.”

Rigel grinned as he said, “That is a pretty good indication the bill is counterfeit.”

The problem does not appear to be widespread in the county. Sheriff Dan Bullock said his department has not encountered any counterfeit reproductions of the new $20 bills thus far.

“I have a phony $10 bill here on my desk that was turned over to us a couple of months ago,” Bullock said.

The sheriff then went on to admit his department was victimized this past week with a counterfeit $100 bill. He said the bill was taken as part of a cash bond and not discovered until later.

“We had to eat the loss just like any other victim,” Bullock said with a bit of embarrassment in his voice. “We have not purchased some of those pens used to detect fake bills.”

Jim Eaton, vice-president of First Community State Bank in Park Hills, said Friday that facility has not encountered any counterfeits of the new $20 bill that he is aware of. He also has not heard of any problems in the area.

What Eaton said the bank has encountered are genuine bills that people become suspicious of because something has happened to the bill. All of those that have been checked have turned out to be good.

The Treasury Department suggests those who want to check a new $20 bill should look for three things. Those are:

  • Security thread — Look closely for the embedded plastic security thread visible from both sides. You’ll find a tiny flag and the words “USA TWENTY.”
  • Color-shifting ink — Tilt the bill up and down, and the color-shifting ink in the number “20” in the lower right hand corner changes from copper to green and back.
  • Watermark — Hold the bill up to the light and look for the faint image similar to the portrait. It’s part of the paper itself, and you can see it from both sides.

If a person suspects they have received a counterfeit note, they should contact either the Secret Service or a local law enforcement agency. Merchants who suspect such a bill is being passed to them should not put themselves in danger, the Treasury Department stresses, but they should not return the bill to the passer.

They should observe the person and any companions to get a description and also try to get a vehicle license number, if possible. They should do these things discretely without putting themselves at risk. They should then contact a local law enforcement agency.

It is pointed out by the Treasury Department, “There is no financial remuneration for the return of the counterfeit bill, but you will have the pride in doing the right thing to help combat counterfeiting.”

Leave a Comment