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Police still finding counterfeit bills

12/8/2012

Law enforcement urges caution when accepting big bills.

Law enforcement urges caution when accepting big bills.

BY ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

The Garden City Police Department has retrieved as many as 11 counterfeit $100 bills since mid-November, after they were used to purchase items from local businesses.

While an arrest has been made in connection to the case, police say both businesses and individuals still should take precautions when accepting $100 bills.

Garden City police officers arrested Chaston Tarwater, 20, 2709 Pearly Jane Ave., on Nov. 16 on an allegation of making false information after identifying him as a person allegedly selling counterfeit $100 bills.

"The arrest was based off the allegation that he was selling the counterfeit $100 bills for a certain sum of money to individuals who were then, we believe, passing them in town," said Garden City police Sgt. Mike Reagle.

From Nov. 14 to 16, police responded to five different businesses that had reported they were given counterfeit $100 bills.

At the time of Tarwater's arrest, officers had stopped a vehicle he was in and found him in possession of two counterfeit $100 bills.

Since the arrest, three more bogus $100 bills have surfaced, according to police. Reagle said it's possible that more will surface, since there isn't any way to determine how many are in circulation.

"If there are anymore out there, they either haven't been circulated yet, or haven't been caught by anyone," he said.

For this reason, he said that both businesses and individuals should take extra precaution when accepting that particular denomination.

"It might not be a bad idea to not take $100 bills at this time. Businesses don't want to slow down their business, but then they are taking a risk — if they take a counterfeit $100 bill, they're out $100. We would suggest either not taking them, or if they are going to take them, they should make sure employees have an understanding of what they should be looking for and that they actually check them right when they get them," he said.

Most of the fake bills have been caught by banks after receiving deposits from affected businesses. Bank employees are well-trained in recognizing real vs. fake money.

Mary Funk, assistant vice president of operations at First National Bank in Holcomb, said they are trained by both law enforcement and the bank to identify the fakes. She said that even with that knowledge, some fakes are more difficult to identify.

"Because they're washing them, what we do is we kind of look at the cut, how the bill is cut, the feel and then we look to see if it's got the magnetic strip in it and also the image, the secondary image," Funk said, referring to the watermark of the president on that particular bill.

She said that the magnetic strip usually is located just left of center.

"So if you looked at it in the light, you could see it," she said.

Real bills include a number of these types of security features, as well as vertical security codes. Reagle said that in some cases, counterfeiters will change the denomination of a real bill, in order to maintain the texture. However, on authentic bills, security codes are present.

"Without holding it up to the light, on a $100 bill, you should be able to see the security code. On this one, you can't," he said, referring to a counterfeit. "They can alter a $5, they can alter a $20, print it on plain paper, but the security codes — you're not going to be able to replicate those."

Reagle said that in this particular case, it appears that the counterfeits were produced and printed.

"They do not have any of the security features, the printing is not straight and the color from the printing is not good. The numbers, the serial numbers and stuff, on these particular ones, it's not straight, like if it would be if it was properly printed," he said.

He said it's possible that some bills have been passed from individual to individual in person-to-person transactions, which means some may not yet be identified as fake.

"Eventually, it's going to get through the system, through a business and then a bank and then get caught by someone," he said.

In the meantime, Reagle said the best defense is to take extra time in examining bills, particularly higher-denomination bills.

"Really, if you take the time, most of the time, you should be able to go, 'Wow. That doesn't look right,'" he said.

He also recommends that people utilize resources providing tips on identifying counterfeit bills.

"Secretservice.gov is a good link for people to go to. It talks about the money and gives them an idea of what to look for," he said.

The GCPD also provides free training about ways to identify counterfeit money. The next training will take place on Dec. 18 and 19, as part of the GCPD's Internal Theft-Forgery-Robbery seminar. Session times will be 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on each day. ¬ 

If businesses or individuals are interested in attending, they can contact Tami Sauseda at 276-1338, or tami.sauseda@gardencityks.us

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