updated 2:19 PM UTC, Oct 15, 2020

Bogus bills bilking county residents

by Emily Waldrep

Advances in printer and copier technology have benefited all of us, including criminals who use this technology to commit crimes. High resolution color printers are now able to accurately reproduce just about anything, including very convincing looking U.S. currency. And a lot of it is turning up in Tyler County.

According to Captain Mike McCulley of the Woodville Police Department, during the last six weeks the police department has been involved in confiscating numerous counterfeit bills in different amounts, including 100s, 20s, 10s and 5s, from businesses calling in after the bills have been spent in their stores.

"As a result of this our agency has begun an investigation concerning the whereabouts of these bills," McCulley said. "Other counties are having the same issues, including Jasper, Newton, Polk, Hardin and Angelina counties."

Apparently the money is being made by high tech color printers, which are very capable of reproducing counterfeit bills, but the paper that the money is being printed on is very poor quality.

"There is only one type of paper that the U.S. Treasury is printing on right now," McCulley said.

The quality of the printing is extremely good but local businesses can tell counterfeit from real money in several ways, including the feel of the paper, the magnetic strip and using special markers to mark the paper.

"An easy way to tell if money is counterfeit is that all your larger bills have a magnetic strip inside the paper," McCulley said. "If you hold the bill up to a bright light you can see the magnetic strip inside of the bill. It will have the same number on the strip as the bill itself. If that strip is not there that is an easy indication that the money is counterfeit."

The quality and type of the paper in counterfeit bills is much different than a real bill.

"If you handle a lot of currency you can tell by the paper that real bills have a certain texture," McCulley said. "The paper is a little bit more coarse and rigid compared to a piece of notebook or typing paper. Counterfeit money will have a very smooth texture compared to good currency notes."

According to authorities, the person or persons responsible for circulating the counterfeit money have some knowledge of technology but there is no way they can acquire U.S. Treasury paper and that's what gives the counterfeit money away.

"In addition, a lot of businesses already have a type of marker which will indicate by a color of the mark whether the bill is counterfeit or not," McCulley said. "If a bill is counterfeit, the mark will turn black and if it's a good bill the mark will be yellow. Those markers have been a great help to businesses in identifying counterfeit money."

Police advise that any person or business that comes across any counterfeit money should contact law enforcement immediately. The secret service and homeland security are both currently involved with local law enforcement to investigate the origin of the counterfeit money

"Anyone that has any information on where this counterfeit money is originating should contact your local law enforcement," McCulley said. "Your name will be withheld. We do have some leads and we are working on those leads right now but will not elaborate more until the investigation is completed."

McCulley said that the large amount of counterfeit money in circulation not only effects businesses, but everyone.

"This effects everybody in the county because of how much of the money is currently in circulation," he said. "It's a great concern to us and we are doing everything we can to eliminate the source. This has happened before and we have had this come up in the past but not as much as we are seeing now. Our agency has confiscated over 100 different counterfeit notes in the past 4-6 weeks ranging from 100's down to 5's."

If you suspect you have a counterfeit bill or have received a counterfeit bill please contact the Woodville Police Department at 283-5262 or the Tyler County Sheriff Department at 283-2172.

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