Counterfeit bills surface

Everyone is gearing up for the holidays, including modern-day grinches who are looking to save a buck or two and do some holiday swindling.

An incident at the Community First Bank indicates there is some funny money passing through town. The Craig Police Department wants people to be aware of counterfeit cash so they can detect it before it puts a damper on someone's holidays.

"Typically they're (the business that made the deposit) out the money," said Community First Bank President Tonya Myers. "We have to send the bill to the secret service."

The Christmas hustle and bustle is the perfect opportunity for a con artist to pass bad bills, said Craig Police Department Lt. John Forgay. Busy clerks facing long lines of holiday shoppers become less perceptive and more vulnerable to accepting counterfeit money.

In a recent Craig case, the staff of Community First Bank detected a counterfeit $20 bill. The bill was apparently a laser copy of an original new pattern bill.

According to Myers, bank tellers are trained to spot counterfeit bills, but many store clerks are not.

"With a good grade of paper and a high quality laser printer, it's possible to make a good enough copy that will get by a lot of people," Forgay said.

Forgay wasn't sure if the bill was made locally, but said the department believes someone locally was passing bad bills in Craig and Steamboat Spring last year.

"Last year we were fairly confident someone locally was doing it," Forgay said. "We probably get a couple hundred dollars in fake bills a year here, but we don't have the problem to the degree that some of the major metro areas do."

The Craig Police Department believes taking a few precautions can keep a person or business from getting scammed by faux money.

n A person should feel the texture of the paper bill see if it feels unusual. True currency is not printed on paper, but a composition material.

n Newer bills should be held up to a light source to detect a the thin strip imbedded in the bill, which will says "USA" and has the denomination written out, such as "ten" or "twenty."

n Newer bills will have a watermark in the form a duplicate portrait of the person shown on the bill.

n On older and newer bills, the color of the ink will appear somewhat different, often showing a bluish tint.

People accepting money should be cautious when it comes to larger bills especially during the Christmas season.

"Anyone suspecting they have received a counterfeit bill should call law enforcement officials to have the bill examined," Forgay said.

A brochure, produced by the Secret Service, explaining the characteristics of a real bill is available for business owners and other interested people at the Craig Police Department.

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