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Counterfeit currency surfaces as holidays approach

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | December 13, 2012

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As the peak of the holiday season approaches, shoppers can expect crowded parking lots, longer checkout lines and shorter tempers. One thing most people are not expecting to run across is counterfeit currency.
According to the U.S. Secret Service, counterfeiting cases tend to rise during the holidays.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Marine Corps Police Department recently reported receiving a counterfeit $10 bill.
“A small amount of counterfeit currency has been discovered aboard the base, which was likely received as change by customers in the local community,” Police Chief Randy Jack, MCPD, said.
The currency was discovered when a customer at the Marine Corps Exchange was purchasing an item and noticed something different about a $10 bill.
“We conducted an investigation and determined this was an isolated incident,” Jack said. “If a person innocently possesses the money and there is no criminal intent, there would be no basis for a charge. The counterfeit currency was turned over to the U.S. Secret Service.”
Jack, a retired U.S. Secret Service employee who served 23 years with the organization, also said it is very difficult to determine the origin of the counterfeit bills.
He is familiar with counterfeit currency.
Counterfeit currency can also be turned into the Navy Federal Credit Union located in Building 3600.
“We use several different means in our attempt to detect counterfeit bills,” Connie Schauer, branch manager, Branch Operations, Navy Federal Credit Union, MCLB Albany, said. “We use a special ultraviolet florescent light and a currency counter that is capable of detecting suspect bills. When we receive a bill that is counterfeit, many people don’t realize it has to be seized and the person does not get the funds back.”
Like MCPD, NFCU is required to send all counterfeit money to the local Secret Service office.
The public has a role in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency, according to the website, www.secretservice.gov/-money_detect.shtml. People can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with U.S. currency, according to the website.
Jack advises Marines and Civilian-Marines to be vigilant and look carefully at change received when shopping.
Jack said genuine currency has numerous security features that are very difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate.
If uncertain if a bill is counterfeit, compare the suspect bill with a genuine bill and look for differences, not similarities including the following, according to the Secret Service:
Portrait
The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background.
The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background, which is often too dark or mottled.
Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals
On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals are clear, distinct and sharp.
The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt, or broken saw-tooth points.
Border
The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On a counterfeit bill, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.
Serial Numbers
Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury Seal.
On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury Seal.
The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.
Paper
Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of United States currency.
For more information or if anyone encounters any suspicious U.S. currency aboard the base, call the Marine Corps Police Department at 229-639-5181.

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