Be on lookout for counterfeit money
by Shaka S. Lias
Dec 12, 2010 | 2470 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From yard sales to drug deals, counterfeit money is not as common as most think, but it is in circulation and once it's in your possession you lose.

Capt. J.F. Cline, with the Cartersville Police Department, said their main priority is to get fraudulent money out of circulation.

"You don't want to pass it to someone else," Cline said.

He said if you come in contact with a fake bill to call the police and turn it in and they in turn will send it to the Secret Service.

Cline said that counterfeit bills are usually found at convenient stores and grocery stores. "Places people are too busy to take time to check it closely," he said.

Chris Wilson, an investigator with the Bartow County Sheriff's Office, agrees. He said fake bills are on the increase at gas stations because of the rising gas prices.

Wilson, who specializes in fraud, identity theft and forgery, said there is no certain time of year that he sees more cases of counterfeit money.

"With the economy the way it is, you can see it anytime," Wilson said.

He said they also see counterfeit money used between drug dealers and buyers. "Especially when you're talking over $1,000, they will slip in a few fakes," he said.

Wilson said the transactions happen so quickly that no one takes the time to verify the money. He says the same for transactions at yard sales.

Wilson said sometimes people don't want to offend a person by checking the money, but he said it will be wise to do so.

"If you want to check it, check it; it's your money," he said.

There is a penalty for being in the possession of counterfeit money, but Wilson said it's hard to prove criminal intent. That is why he advises anyone who comes in contact with a fake bill to turn it in immediately.

Mark Ritchie, Secret Service Special Agent at the Atlanta Division, said that out of a trillion dollars, less than 1 percent is counterfeit. However, he said it is easy to counterfeit, with a $100 bill being the most common bill counterfeited.

He advises that if you suspect you are in possession of a counterfeit bill to compare it to one that you know is real. And to hold it up to the light to examine the stripe and reflection of the president's face.

"Chances of getting stuck with one is slim, but the person stuck with holding it last is the one who loses," Ritchie said.

Ritchie said those convicted for counterfeiting money face a fine and up to 20 years in prison.