Counterfeit currency cycles into city

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Counterfeit money has recently beenreported in Brookhaven, and many local businesses are wary.

    A customer at the Brookway Boulevard Blue Sky convenience storeattempted to make a purchase with counterfeit $100 bills onMonday.

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    Blue Sky employee Lacita Thompson said that the customer claimedshe received the bills from her bank.

    About two weeks ago The DAILY LEADER received a counterfeit $10bill. The bill originated from one of The DAILY LEADER’s vendoraccounts at a convenience store, but which store was unknown.

    Troy Douglas, an employee at Gregg Office Machine Co., has soldmore than 20 of the counterfeit currency detector pens used byretail stores within the last week, a noticeable jump in sales.

    “It’s being rumored that counterfeit money is all over the place,”Douglas said.

    However, according to authorities, recent counterfeiting incidentsdo not indicate widespread activity.

    Bobby Bell, Brookhaven assistant police chief, has not seen a rashof counterfeit currency in the city. The last instance of a phonybill passed in Brookhaven that Bell had knowledge of dates fromthree weeks ago.

    “We see counterfeit money every once and a while,” Bell said. “Wedon’t see that much of it, but we do have our share for being asmall town. It’s mostly from people passing through.”

    Bell said that Brookhaven restaurants tend to receive fake currencymore often than other businesses.

    Bank of Brookhaven Senior Vice President Shannon E. Aker saidcounterfeit money appears in Brookhaven in cycles.

    “A couple times a year we have a flurry of activity,” Aker said.”This past year it was around the holidays.”

    Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing agreed with Aker as totiming.

    Rushing said that when forged currency appears in Lincoln County itdoes so around the holidays. Otherwise counterfeit money in thecounty is sparse.

    Typically, counterfeit bills appear much more often within the citylimits of Brookhaven than in the county.

    “We may see some every couple months,” Rushing said.

    The $100 bills at the Blue Sky are something of an anomaly.

    Counterfeit money seems to be trending toward smallerdenominations, at least in Brookhaven. Bogus $100 bills appear onthe decline in favor of $20 and even some $10 bills.

    Bell used to predominately see $100 bills when counterfeit moneysurfaced in the city. That does not happen as often now, as heprimarily deals with $20 bills.

    Aker reported much the same experience. He stills runs across a few$100 bills but mainly sees $20s.

    Counterfeiters in the county may be more desperate, however.Rushing said that recently he has seen both $20 and $10 counterfeitbills.

    “I assume they are easier to pass; they may not get checked realclosely,” Rushing said.

    Bell and Aker both described the difference of texture between agenuine bill and most forged bills as a primary means ofidentifying counterfeit money.

    “When you handle money every day you can almost look at a bill andknow it’s not right. But we have a couple machines that do helpus,” Aker said.

    The Secret Service, which investigates counterfeiting of U.S.currency, details on its website a number of other securityfeatures that people may use to detect genuine currency.

    Ten, $20 and $50 bills printed since 2004 feature color-shiftingink on the denomination number in the lower right corner on theface side. The color shifting ink moves from copper to black whenviewed from different angles.

    Bell wants local residents to be familiar with some of thedifferent security features.

    “It’s not a big problem, but people need to be aware thatcounterfeit money does sometimes appear,” Bell said.