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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

B/CS hit with forged five dollar bills

 
 

Area vendors are being warned to check all incoming bills after four reports of counterfeit $5 bills were made by local businesses last week.
“At the last count we’ve had 20 $5 bills turned in,” said Walt Melnyk, public information officer for the Bryan Police Department.
Will Lee Sims was arrested on Jan. 25 outside of King Mart on 800 E. MLK after being caught using counterfeit bills, Melnyk said.
Reports of counterfeit bills were made on Jan. 29 at the Sonic and the Preference Inn Motel, located on South Texas Avenue.
Tobacco Barn also reported a counterfeit five on Jan. 30. On Jan. 31, another report of counterfeit $5 bills was made by the Appletree on 2001 E. State Hwy 21.
Melnyk encourages those dealing with cash to invest in counterfeit detection pens which are available at most office supply stores.
“(The pens) work off of a color coding system,” said Monty Northern, assistant store manager for Office Depot. “If a bill is marked by a pen and the mark turns yellow or clear, then it’s a legitimate bill; if the mark turns grey or brown then the currency is suspect.”
Shirley Stratta, store manager for Appletree, said counterfeit pens helped her store detect forged bills.
“We used the counterfeit pen,” Stratta said. “But the $5 bill was obvious; the ink was running and it was smaller.”
Stratta says the store routinely checks $100 bills and $50 bills with the pens, but in light of the recent circumstances, it will start checking $5 bills as well.
Chris Johnson, assistant to the special agent in charge of secret service in Houston, said he does not feel that the pens are accurate.
“The only things those pens do is detect calcium that’s on the bills,” Johnson said. “Now, a genuine bill may not have a detectable amount of calcium (the pen) can give a false positive; it is not a reliable instrument.”
Johnson recommends that the best way to detect a counterfeit is to compare a suspect bill with a known genuine bill. After suspected counterfeit bills are turned into the police department, they are sent to the secret service which tests the bills to determine their authenticity.
The best ways to determine whether a bill is counterfeit is to look at its color, watermarks and security strips on bills larger than $1, if the cut is crooked or too small and if the color runs when it is wet. Any suspect bills should be reported to the police department immediately. If the vendor feels safe enough, he should detain the suspected person until police arrive, Melnyk said.
Forgery is a third degree felony with a punishment oftwo years to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
“There are enough security features incorporated in the new currency to help keep it safe,” Johnson said.
Click here to find out how to detect counterfeit bills.

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