MEDFORD, Ore. — More fake currency is flowing through Southern Oregon compared to last year. Access to sophisticated printers and ink is making it easier for criminals to make counterfeits.
Five dollar bills, or any other small bills like 10′s or 20s, are the most common counterfeit bills law enforcement comes across. There are several ways to detect fake money. The easiest way is the way the bill feels. Counterfeit bills are printed on paper, but real currency is on cloth and even has thread weaved into it.
Already this year in Medford, police have seen a nearly 51% increase of counterfeit currency. So far this year in Grants Pass, police reported about 144 cases of forgery. They estimate about 60 to 70% of those cases involve counterfeit money.
Law enforcement say criminals take the smaller bills, like those 5′s, 10′s, and 20′s, to fast-food restaurants or mini-marts, purchase some items, and then get real cash back. They’ll do this several times in different locations, until they have enough money to purchase drugs. Police find out about this by talking with suspects they arrest.
“And also through records that they have on them, or that we recover during the case, and interviews with the people that we are taking into custody, but people associated with them and say, ‘yeah we know they were doing this because they bragged about it,’” explained Grants Pass Police Lt. Jim Hamilton.
Ultimately, it’s businesses who lose in the end and eat up the costs. Store owners will go to the bank to deposit the cash and not realize the money is fake.
Police say there are a few ways to tell if money is fake. On the twenty dollar bill, for example, you should see a watermark of the president’s face when you hold it up to the light, or check for a security strip on the side, or see if there’s color-shifting ink; if it has all that, then the bill is real.