The Richmond Hill Police Department has reported the passing of several $100 bills within the city in the last week or so.
On Thursday, May 7, the discovery of three phony $100 bills were reported to police by three separate Richmond Hill businesses – Molly MacPherson’s, Domino’s Pizza and Jukebox Bar & Grill.
Bryan Bank & Trust CEO Jimmy Burnsed said several $100 bills were recently presented to his tellers.
Burnsed, as well as RHPD Cpl. Susan Willis, said this denomination is very rare to come across, each stating that lower bills have been passed locally in the past.
When a counterfeit bill is discovered, local authorities are required to report it to the U.S. Secret Service. Jeff Thomas, a supervisor at the Savannah branch of the Secret Service, said he has seen a rise in the amount of counterfeit bills discovered "not just in Richmond Hill and Bryan County, but in Savannah and all over the country. As the economy has gone south, we’re seeing a big rash of counterfeit bills."
Thomas said everyone needs to be careful and aware of this crime because it is a second degree felony to simply possess a counterfeit bill.
"People need to look at it as possessing an illegal drug, such as marijuana or heroine," Thomas said. "Passing it or manufacturing it can carry some very long federal prison terms."
Thomas said those pens that local businesses use are very unreliable as they only detect magnetic ink, which is present in many counterfeit bills. However, he said "you don’t have to be a secret service agent" to pick up on several tell-tale signs in recognizing a counterfeit bill. Here are a few features present in genuine currency that are difficult to duplicate:
- Color shifting ink present in the numeral located in the lower right hand corner, which shifts from green to black as you tilt it.
- A hologram of the president on the right hand side of the bill, present when you hold it up to the light.
Thomas said to make sure the hologram is of the same president depicted in the middle of the bill, as some counterfeiters have been known to bleach $1 before falsely printing higher denominations, which retains the hologram of George Washington.
- A "security strip" on the left hand side of the bill, which repeatedly has the denomination of the bills, such as several dozen "10" markings for a $10 bill.
- Distinct lines in the forehead of the president.
- Presence of red and blue fibers.
- See more distinctive features by visiting http://www.ustreas.gov/usss/money_detect.shtml
"Color ink jet printers have seemingly made counterfeiting too easy, especially as times gets hard and crooks get lazy," Thomas said. "We’ve made some arrests, but it’s mostly of those passing the bills. We’re working on getting to the source of some of this recent activity, and we’re currently working some leads."
The RHPD reports from last week’s Richmond Hill cases indicate surveillance video is being reviewed and the cases are being investigated.