Counterfeit Class Helps Merchants Look for Real Deal

March 14, 2007 - Posted at 9:49 p.m. CST

POPLAR BLUFF, MO -- Criminals who make counterfeit cash are turning it into an art form.  For thieves hoping to counterfeit cash... it's a tempting way to make money with the help of a printer.

Currently there are about a dozen people nation wide that are trained by the department of treasury to put together an entire bill...but there are plenty of folks making the effort.

Micro printing, toner, ink jet and even lithography...all ways criminals make counterfeit money.  Poplar Bluff business owners learned about color-shifting ink and watermarks Wednesday from the St. Louis secret service.  But for Steve was a lesson too late.

"It was in the regular stack to be deposited and the teller felt the bill and it felt funny to her, so she looked at it and instead of the image of Benjamin Franklin, it was Abraham Lincoln staring back," said Whitworth, owner of Whitworth's Giftchest Jewelers.

A $5 dollar bleached and re-printed as a $100.

"We probably didn't take it from a criminal, we probably took it from somebody else who had innocently received it and passed it on before it had gone through a bank," said Whitworth.

Counterfeiting has been on the rise since the introduction of inkjet printers, but to come across a fake bill is still a rarity.

"A counterfeit bill is probably not something that every business retailer is going to see every business day.  However in Region 8, you're probably going to see a retailer in a business year come across a counterfeit bill, so it's much better to be prepared for that and know what to do and know how to recognize that bill because it will happen," said Poplar Bluff Police Detective Gary Pride.

And as for identifying and's just a matter of being alert.

"It's just one more tool that they can use to help them in their productivity and their financial matters and something for their security issues...the feet on the ground, the boots on the ground is where most of these counterfeit bills are going to applied. and it was just one way we wanted to get the retailers and the bankers in here so they could actually identify those bills," said Ken Parrett of the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce.

Real bills are printed in Washington, D.C. and Fort Worth, Texas and are made up of 25% linen and 75% scraps of denim recycled from Levi Strauss and Company.