Beware of fraudulent check schemes and fake bills

A couple of cases of alleged fraud have recently hit the Gila Valley. A local catering business was recently contacted via Instagram by a person in California, who said she wanted to book the local caterer for a wedding in California. The woman in California, who identified herself as Lashaunta Washington, eventually sent 2 checks to the caterer. After the checks were deposited, Washington called back and said she had found a family member to cater the event and said she wanted her money back.

The caterer used a debit card to wire the money back to Washington. Shortly thereafter, the bank contacted the caterer to inform her that the checks Washington had sent were no good. Efforts to stop payment on the wire transfer were unsuccessful.

A second incident occurred at a local convenience store. The store manager contacted Safford Police to report a fraudulent $100 bill that had been processed by the store. The store clerk had apparently failed to check the bill before accepting it. After the bill was deposited, the bank notified the store that it was fraudulent and would not accept it. The investigating officer noted that it was obviously fraudulent, that there was a blue mark through the bill that had missing areas, Chinese writing engraved in tape located in the middle of the bill, which had been ripped in one place. The bill also had improper water marks and didn’t feel like real money.

The store manager was able to identify the person who had allegedly passed the bill to the store, but the man denied having any knowledge about the bill being fake. He first claimed that he had received the bill from the bank. When police pointed out that banks routinely check for fraudulent bills the man then said that the bill may have been passed to him at a swap meet. When shown the bill, the man said that he did not remember ever handling the bill, nor using it at the convenience store.

He was trespassed from the store and warned that he would be criminally charged if he returned.

How to spot a counterfeit bill

Here are some tips from the US Treasury Department:

  • Color-shifting ink: If you hold the new series bill (except the $5 note) and tilt it back and forth, please observe the numeral in the lower right hand corner as its color shifts from green to black and back.
  • Watermark: Hold the bill up to a light to view the watermark in an unprinted space to the right of the portrait. The watermark can be seen from both sides of the bill since it is not printed on the bill but is imbedded in the paper.
  • Security Thread: Hold the bill up to a light to view the security thread. You will see a thin imbedded strip running from top to bottom on the face of a banknote. In the $10 and $50 the security strip is located to the right of the portrait, and in the $5, $20 and $100, it is located just to the left of the portrait.
  • Ultraviolet Glow: If the bill is held up to an ultraviolet light, the $5 bill glows blue; the $10 bill glows orange, the $20 bill glows green, the $50 bill glows yellow, and the $100 bill glows red – if they are authentic!
  • Microprinting: There are minute microprinting on the security threads: the $5 bill has “USA FIVE” written on the thread; the $10 bill has “USA TEN” written on the thread; the $20 bill has “USA TWENTY” written on the thread; the $50 bill has “USA 50” written on the thread; and the $100 bill has the words “USA 100” written on the security thread. Microprinting can be found around the portrait as well as on the security threads.
  • Fine Line Printing Patterns: Very fine lines have been added behind the portrait and on the reverse side scene to make it harder to reproduce.
  • Comparison: Compare the feel and texture of the paper with other bills you know are authentic.

If you believe you have received a counterfeit bill, the U.S. Treasury advises you to do the following:

  • Do not put yourself in danger.
  • Do not return the bill to the passer.
  • Delay the passer with some excuse, if possible.
  • Observe the passer’s description – and their companions’ descriptions – and write down their vehicle license plate numbers if you can.
  • Contact your local police department or call your local Secret Service office.
  • Write your initials and date in the white border area of the suspected counterfeit note.
  • Do not handle the counterfeit note. Place it inside a protective cover, a plastic bag, or envelope to protect it until you place it in the hands of an identified Secret Service Special Agent. You can also mail it to your nearest Secret Service office.