Tis the season for counterfeit cash - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tis the season for counterfeit cash

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December 10, 2006

Albany -- Tis the season for Christmas shopping, and an increase in the number of people using counterfeit cash. For some it may be accidental, but others are looking to rip-off retailers during the holiday rush.

If you get your change from any store it's a good idea to take a closer look at your bills. If some money you get happens to be fake and then you try to spend it there's a possibility you may be charged for the crime.

Albany police work on several cases of fake money in all dollar denominations. Most recently it has been $20 and $100 bills. Police shared some tips with us on what to look for.

Convenience store clerk Cindy Harris won't let her customers cash in, without checking up on the money they use to pay.

"We watch out for them year-round, in fact we had one in last night that was bad. We had to turn it over to police," said Cindy Harris.

Harris takes several measures to protect her store from accepting a counterfeit bill, like the swipe of a marker that indicates by color a fake bill from a real one. Learning to tell the difference between what is real or not can save you from using fake money, a crime some people can accidently commit.

When you get your change after making a purchase there are a few things you can do to make sure it's real. Hold the bill up to a light source, on the right side of the bill you should see a water mark. It's an image of the president's face. Also run your fingernail over the president's collar. The ink makes ridges in the paper.

Another check you can do is looking for the security thread. Hold the bill up to the light. On a $5 bill it's near the left side of the paper, but placed elsewhere on other bills.

Police say be vigilant. They've been dealing with more counterfeit money now that shoppers are out in full force.

"You think you ran across a bill at a store, you want to get it checked out. We can take it and exchange it out for you, get it looked at and make sure it's not fake," said officer Marcus Sales.

Inspecting her customers' money is something Cindy Harris does every time.

"Everybody's just got to be extra careful, this time of year and you've got to mark every bill," said Harris.

A warning from police, mark each bill and check it twice, before you commit the crime of spending counterfeit cash without knowing it.

One of the best ways to detect fake money is using your senses, sight and touch. Look out for the watermark and feel the paper the bill is printed on, if it doesn't seem right call police.

Visit www.secretservice.gov or www.moneyfactory.com for more tips on knowing your money.

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