Counterfeit bills passed in Spencer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
SPENCER ó Four counterfeit bills have been passed at two stores in Spencer in recent weeks.
Last Friday, two counterfeit $20 bills were passed at Family Dollar on Salisbury Avenue. On Feb. 23, a pair of counterfeit $10 bills were passed at Food Lion, also on Salisbury Avenue.
Police Chief Robert Bennett said he hadn’t seen the $20 bills, but said the $10 bills “looked pretty good.” Still, he said anyone touching the bills should have realized they were counterfeit.
“If I’d felt them, I’d have known right away they weren’t real,” Bennett said.
He said the person who passed the counterfeit $20 bills at Family Dollar was known by a store employee and contacted once it was realized the bills were fake. The individual told store managers, Bennett said, that the bills came from A Friend Indeed Check Cashing in Salisbury.
Bennett said managers of A Friend Indeed were contacted and replaced the bills with real currency. He said managers of the check cashing business said they got money from both banks and individuals, and didn’t know where the counterfeit money came from.
Bennett said Family Dollar has a policy where bills are supposed to be swiped with a “counterfeit pen” at the time the money is presented. He said the store was busy when the money was exchanged and the clerk didn’t do so.
Bennett said the counterfeit pen leaves a brown mark if the money is real. If it’s counterfeit, the mark is black.
Bennett said the art of counterfeiting has come a long way over the past 20 or 30 years. He said that a few decades ago, only a true professional could produce counterfeit money, needing to produce metal plates and whatnot to complete the task.
“Now, with color copiers, we’ve got high schoolers counterfeiting money,” Bennett said.
He said Spencer merchants get an average of about one counterfeit bill a month. He said most are of smaller denominations, something in the $10 to $20 range.
“I can’t remember the last time someone passed a fake $100 bill,” Bennett said.
Someone trying to pass a counterfeit bill can be charged with fraud. Just possessing the money can lead to a charge of possession of counterfeit money.
Bennett said he recommends that all merchants invest in a “counterfeit pen” to mark money to see if it’s real or fake.
He said he spoke to members of the Spencer Business Association on Monday night about how they might protect themselves from accepting counterfeit bills.
Bennett said Bill Blevins, a law enforcement officer with the Rowan/Kannapolis ABC System, will also come to businesses and present for free a training course on how employees might detect counterfeit bills.
Bennett said the excitement that a report of counterfeit money produced a few years ago has waned greatly. He said the Secret Service nowadays typically doesn’t send an agent out to investigate the confiscation of counterfeit bills.
“When we finish, they ask us to send them our report and the bills,” Bennett said. “That’s usually the last we hear from them.”
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Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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