LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After a Lufkin store caught a woman trying to pay with funny money, others are keeping a closer eye on their cash.
Many merchants are training their employees to make sure currency is the real deal.
With every swipe and every watermark check, Sharlene Anderson and coworkers at the Frank Street Tobacco Barn try to combat counterfeiting.
"It's frustrating and it upsets you to think that they'll try to cheat you like that. We don't get the money back, so we just lose it," said Anderson.
They're making sure they don't lose a penny.
They caught one woman trying to pass a 20 dollar bill in the drive-thru.
"If you get a 100 dollar bill, you have to mark it with a pen. If it's good it'll turn brown or yellow. If it's bad, it'll turn coal black," Anderson said.
Markers only test the paper.
Some counterfeiters strip the ink from a smaller bill and print on top of it.
That's why Anderson also holds the watermark up to the light.
Although Lufkin Police haven't seen a huge spike in counterfeit bills, it is a problem and one that could often easily be avoided.
"As the technology for combating counterfeiting improves, so do the counterfeiters technology," said Detective J. B. Smith from the Lufkin Police Department.
Det. Smith advises that first, go by touch. If it doesn't feel right it probably isn't.
Also, the watermark should match the portrait on the bill perfectly.
"Prior to 2004, the five dollar bills had the watermark of Abraham Lincoln, the same as the portrait that's on the bill. Since 2004 they have the number five embedded in them as a watermark," said Smith.
There's also a clear thread running through the bill, showing the denomination.
It's visible on both sides when held to the light.
Also, check the serial number. Every bill has a unique number.
"Criminals look for any chink in the armor. If they realize that the merchants and general public don't know what to look for in a counterfeit bill, then they'll attempt to pass more of them I believe," said Smith.
So, the workers at Tobacco Barn keep a close eye on every bill.