LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin Police are warning businesses to be on the lookout for counterfeit bills which pass most employee tests after a "washed" dollar after someone attempted to pass a $1 bill as a $100 bill.
According to police spokesman JB Smith, an employee at M&B Food Mart, located at 708 North Raguet St. reported that an unidentified Hispanic man tried to pass the bill at the business.
The employee inspected the bill and determined that it was a $1 bill from which the ink had been removed. When the employee confronted the suspect about the bill, the suspect fled from the store.
According to Smith, bill washing appears to be the technique used in this case. Counterfeiters "wash" the ink off a low-denomination bill, typically a $5 bill, by using any number of different solvent solutions, including some common household cleaners. If performed properly, the washing process does not harm the paper or certain security characteristics of the original bill. This leaves the counterfeiter a blank piece of genuine currency paper upon which to print a larger denomination bill, typically a $100 bill.
The washed counterfeit note will pass the "counterfeit pen" test because the pen only tests the paper, which would be genuine US currency paper. If the original bill was a $5 bill or higher denomination, the fake bill will have the anti-counterfeiting features one expects to find in genuine currency, including red and blue fibers embedded in the paper, a watermark that is visible from either side of the bill, and an embedded polyester strip inscribed with the denomination of the bill that is visible when held up to light and glows in ultraviolet light. These security features will be correct only for the original bill but they might pass a casual "eyeball" inspection, Smith said.
According to Smith, ultraviolet light counterfeit detection devices are capable of identifying this type of "washed" bills because the embedded security threads will the proper color for the original bill, not for the larger denomination. A $5 bill security thread will glow blue whereas a $100 bill should appear as a very pale pink.
While technology is available to assist with detecting counterfeit currency, anyone who knows what to look for can quickly and easily spot funny money. Information concerning the features of genuine Federal Reserve Notes online at www.secretservice.gov/know_your_money.shtml. Anyone who doubts that a bill is genuine should contact their local police department, Smith said.
Converting fake money to genuine currency is the goal of most people passing counterfeit money. One simple way to achieve their goal is to purchase items of little value and "pay" with a larger-than-necessary bill, such as using a counterfeit $20, $50, or $100 bill to pay for a few dollars' worth of merchandise, Smith said.
Counterfeiters also sell the counterfeit bills; offering several hundred dollars of fake bills in exchange for a few dollars of genuine bills. If the suspicions of Lufkin PD investigators are correct, counterfeiters recently employed this bill-selling technique in Lufkin and East Texas businesses could soon see an increase in attempts to pass counterfeit currency.
Anyone with information concerning persons involved in counterfeiting money in the East Texas area can call Crime Stoppers of Lufkin at (936) 639-TIPS or submit an anonymous tip at LufkinCrimeStoppers.com.
A close look at a picture of the bill used at the Lufkin store reveals the $1 bill was not "washed" very well and a faded portion of the bill is still visible.