Learn from our mistake on fake money

Published 5:28 pm Saturday, December 3, 2016

The world of counterfeit money is not one this newspaper was very familiar with. But we got an up-close look at it recently when someone unknowingly passed a $100 bill at the newspaper office. Let our mistake be a lesson for you.

After studying the bill, it was obvious it was fake. But at a passing glance, it looked very much real.

A visit by a couple of police officers opened our eyes to just how prevalent counterfeit money is. This particular $100 bill was a pretty good replica, but the police officers we spoke with had a stack of bills that looked very much like the real deal.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

And these fake bills are circulating all over Brookhaven. Some were found blowing through the parking lot of Walmart recently. The customer who gave us the fake $100 didn’t realize it wasn’t real. He had found it on the street following the Christmas parade.

Some of the fake bills found in Brookhaven are printed with the words “for motion picture.” But it is written in the same font as the words on a real bill, making it easy to pass to an unsuspecting store.

And it turns out, it may not be illegal to use that money. According to police, the unauthorized reproduction of currency is illegal, but these fake bills printed with “for motion picture” weren’t reproduced as real currency. They are movie props, and owning them apparently isn’t illegal. And the person using them can always claim ignorance if confronted.

So what’s a business or individual to do? There are pens that can be used to reveal counterfeit bills. But those pens don’t work on old money. The easiest thing is to rub the bill across a sheet of white paper. A real bill will leave ink behind. A counterfeit won’t.

It’s a lesson we learned the hard way. Hopefully, you won’t have to.