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2013-06-20

Phony money turns up in Lakehills

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matt King said that local law enforcement officers - in conjunction with Secret Service agents - are investigating two instances of counterfeit bills being recently passed in the county.

"Both incidents occurred at the E-Z Mart, located at the corner of FM 1283 and Park Road 37 in Lakehills," King said in an interview on Monday, June 17. During the week of Monday, June 3, a fake $20 was passed, and a second incident occurred during the week of Monday, June 10. This time, however, the phony money included a $10 bill and four $1 bills. So far, E-Z Mart has been the only retail business at which the counterfeit bills have turned up.

King described the fake money as looking like photocopies of real thing that had been somewhat "roughed up" to assist with the deception. "The bills had obviously been photocopied, but the suspects are actually doing a pretty good job, but if you compare the fake bills to real ones, you can tell the difference immediately," he said, adding, "Everyone has a color printer nowadays."

The deception came to light when a clerk gave the phony bills to customers as change. Realizing the bills were counterfeit, the customers notified the BCSO, who in turn contacted E-Z Mart before beginning the investigation.

According to finance.yahoo.com/news/eight-ways-to-spot-counterfeit-money-181716971.html, Jason Kersten, an expert on counterfeiting and the author of "The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter," noted that real currency has a "raised texture" to it because of the type of printing press used to produce the bills.

"Counterfeit bills feel flat because they are often made digitally or on an offset press," Kersten wrote. "People who handle a lot of cash can just notice that something doesn't feel right."

When asked why someone would bother to counterfeit $1 bills, King postulated, "Often clerks will use a special pen to determine if larger denomination bills are real, but no one would think to check a single. However, under the law, passing a $1 counterfeit bill is the same as passing a $100 bill."

The website www.howstuffworks.com, explained how a detector pen works. "The counterfeit detector pen contains an iodine solution that reacts with the starch in wood-based paper to create a black stain. When the solution is applied to the fiber-based paper used in real bills, no discoloration occurs. The pen does nothing but detect bills printed on normal copier paper instead of the fine papers used by the US Treasury."

The case remains under investigation.

In the meantime, King advised merchants to use caution when accepting any bills and not to accept paper money of any denomination if they suspect something is not right. He recommended that consumers follow the same suggestions.