Official Spree Dollars have preprinted numbers, stamped expiration dates and are darker in color than counterfeit Spree Dollars.

Official Spree Dollars have preprinted numbers, stamped expiration dates and are darker in color than counterfeit Spree Dollars.

No further fallout from bogus bills ... yet

— There's has been no further fallout from last week's news that fake Spree Dollars certificates were circulated at local stores, said Christina Currie, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director.

"So far, the loss has been $150 that we're aware of," Currie said Sunday, three days after learning that three fraudulent certificates, at $50 each, were spent at Craig convenience stores.

The Chamber issues Spree Dollars in denominations ranging from $5 to $50. The certificates are essentially the same as cash at most, if not all, Craig stores and businesses.

The organization learned through its bank Thursday that fake bills appearing roughly the same as legitimate bills had been circulated. The last batch of certificates from the bank, Currie said, came back clean.

The forged bills are the subject of an ongoing Craig Police Department investigation.

Shortly after learning of the fake bills, the Chamber took steps to publicize the incidents and speak with local banks and primary merchants about how to spot the phony certificates. Those merchants included Wal-Mart, Kmart, grocery and convenience stores.

Thus far, no stores or businesses have informed the Chamber that they would not accept the certificates, which the organization guarantees as currency.

There also has been no talk of shutting down or temporarily halting the successful Spree Dollars program, an offering designed to stimulate local shopping and spending.

"We hope to continue presenting the program because it is such a benefit to the community," Currie said.

The fake certificates found last week are near duplicates, minus some minor differences, to authentic Spree Dollars. While flaws of the counterfeit certificates have been made public, Currie said the Chamber has other means of detecting fake bills.

Local merchants and business employees can help the Chamber stem the tide of any future bogus bills.

The Chamber urges local merchants and businesses to require customers using Spree Dollars to sign the back of the certificates and then check customer identification, the same precautions used on regular bank checks.

Store and business employees may also call the Chamber at 824-5689 at any time to verify the authenticity of a Spree Dollars bill.

"We just hope the merchants are taking the responsibility seriously and help ensure the Chamber doesn't have to eat any more costs," Currie said.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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