Guest column: Spotting fake money: Here’s what to look for | PostIndependent.com
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Guest column: Spotting fake money: Here’s what to look for

John Dyer
Guest Column
John Dyer
Staff Photo |

Unfortunately, there are people out there that will take advantage for their own gain. News media are replete with stories of scams that take advantage of people and do serious harm to the victims, and to our community.

The latest scam we have seen is an old one that comes back time and time again: We have had several cases of counterfeit bills being passed in Rifle and other Garfield County businesses. With the advances in bill manufacturing, just a close look should spot the fake.

The public has a role in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency. You can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with United States currency. Here are some tips from the U.S. Secret Service website, secretservice.gov:

Look at the money you receive. Compare a suspect note with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics. Look for differences, not similarities.

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 the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scroll work 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.

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.

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 the lines on the counterfeit note 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.

As always, I ask you, the public, for your help in policing Rifle. If you suspect you have a counterfeit bill, get as much information as possible, without risking yourself (description of person or car, direction of travel, etc.) and call 625-8095 (dispatch center) right away. Thank you for the help.

John Dyer is chief of police in Rifle.


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