Counterfeit Money

Counterfeit $100 bills turn up in Yakima and the Tri-Cities fairly often, making it important to check all bills. Most counterfeits can be found by using a counterfeit detection pen available for about $3 each at your local office supply store. Some of the $100 counterfeits are said to be printed on bleached out $5 bills, so the pens won’t catch the counterfeit since it is “real money paper”.

Here is how to detect counterfeit money according the the U.S. Secret Service:

Look at the money you receive. Compare a suspect note with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics. Look for differences, not similarities.

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 points.


Border

The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.

Serial Numbers

Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers 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. The numbers 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, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of United States currency.


What to do if you have counterfeit currency

Since the consequences for passing counterfeit currency include fines up to $5,000 or imprisonment up to 15 years, you need to be careful. If you have a suspicious bill:

  • Do not return it to the passer.
  • Delay the passer if possible.
  • Observe the passer’s description, as well as that of any companions, and the license plate numbers of any vehicles used.
  • Contact your local police department
  • Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspect note.
  • Limit the handling of the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope.
  • Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or a U.S. Secret Service special agent.