Posted at: 09/12/2012 6:36 PM
Updated at: 09/12/2012 6:44 PM
By: Dan Conradt
Counterfeit Currency Wave Continues
(ABC 6 News) -- It's a crime that comes in waves, and across southern Minnesota, we're in the middle of the latest wave, incidents have been reported in Austin, Albert Lea, Rochester, Winona, Red Wing and Byron.
And while they might call it "funny money," but there's nothing funny about it.
"We've seen six calls in the last three weeks involving 10's and 20's," said Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger.
And that's just in Austin.
"High quality, photo copied bills and the paper that they're getting does feel like a real 10 or 20 dollar bill," Krueger explained.
But there's more to currency than meets the eye, and that's the part counterfeits often miss.
"A lot of times that string won't be there and the watermarks, they'd miss the watermarks," said Cindy Jensen at First Farmers And Merchants State Bank in Austin.
The latest bogus bills have shown up at deposits from convenience stores and electronics stores.
"Stores need to be very diligent looking at the bills," said Chief Krueger.
“Know how the bill looks, know how it feels, especially the size, sometimes the sizes will vary," added Jensen.
“If they have any questions they should be marking the bills to see if they are counterfeit before they take them," Chief Krueger said.
Special pens will leave a mark on counterfeit currency, but not on legitimate bills.
“Here at the bank we have three ways to detect, we use the pens, also our currency counters detect fraudulent, then we also have ultraviolet light," Jensen explained.
But by the time the counterfeit bills get to the bank, it's too late for the business that took them. Counterfeiters know that, and often work in teams to keep store clerks busy.
"And side-track the cashier while they're changing the bills for one of the people they're working with," Chief Krueger told us.
"And with waiting on anyone, be it at the store or in the bank, pay attention to what you're doing, and if you need to take extra time, take the time," added Jensen.
Three people have been arrested in Winona for suspicion of passing counterfeit bills, and investigators are trying to determine if they're also suspects in other cases across southern Minnesota.