Police fight counterfeiters

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 6, 2011

Suffolk Police are on the trail of several counterfeit notes that have been passed at local businesses this week.

Businesses on North Main Street filed complaints of counterfeit bills with the Suffolk Police Department on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Typically, the police department investigates two to four incidents per month, city spokeswoman Debbie George said.

“Usually if one counterfeit bill gets passed, we see several,” George said.

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Citizens are encouraged to be alert when giving and receiving money to ensure the bills are genuine. The U.S. Secret Service, which is tasked with investigating counterfeit money in the United States, gives these tips to citizens to be on the lookout for fake money:

  • Portrait: The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat; details merge into the background, which is often too dark or mottled.
  • Federal Reserve and Treasury seals: On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are clear, distinct and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt or broken saw-tooth point.
  • Border: The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On counterfeit bills, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.
  • Serial numbers: Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style, are evenly spaced and are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal and may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.
  • Paper: Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often, counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals the lines on a counterfeit are printed on the surface. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of U.S. currency.
  • Raised notes: Genuine paper currency sometimes is altered to increase its face value. One common method is to glue numbers from higher-denomination notes to the corners of lower-denomination notes. These bills are also considered counterfeit. Be sure to compare the denomination numerals in each corner with the denomination written out at the bottom of the note on both sides and over the Treasury seal.

If you think you’ve received a counterfeit bill, handle it as little as possible and call the Suffolk Police Department at 923-2350, ext. 0, or the U.S. Secret Service Norfolk field office, 441-3200.