Cpl. George Barber with the Albany Police Department said devices are available for businesses which can quickly determine whether a bill is real. Police say there has been a wave of counterfeit $10 bills surfacing in parts of the Albany. (June 20, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. -- When you're out there shopping for the things you need, be sure to check your change. You could have something less than legal tender.
There's been a recent surge of bogus money passed to local businesses -- especially $10 bills, say police detectives. The false paper is showing up mostly in the south and east parts of the city, officials say, in fast-food restaurants, discount stores and convenience stores.
"The biggest thing is, we want to encourage people to check their money," said Cpl. George Barber, detective with the Albany Police Department.
During a news conference Thursday, Barber demonstrated a compact machine that even small businesses could employ to distinguish real bills from counterfeit. When a bill of genuine U.S. currency is placed in the device, the magnetic strip inside the bill lights up, the machine "chirps" and the customers sees a red LED.
Barber said the detection devices cost $80-$100. A quick search of the Intenet finds devices or special pens that also claim to do the job for less than $40.
Barber illustrated the portrait "watermark" of a genuine $10 bill by holding it against the light. The image mbedded in bills of all denominations are difficult, if not impossible, for forgers to reproduce, he said.
For any bill except a $1 or $2 bill produced since 1990, place the bill up to the light and find the narrow "security thread," stating USA and the demoniation of the bill. Held near an ultraviolet, or "black," light, the security thread will glow, officials say.
But in most cases, a fake bill can be detected in seconds -- just by rubbing your fingers over it and having a good look, detectives say. Chances are you'll spot the differences in the paper, ink color or sharpness of detail.
Barber had some advice for business owners who are receive a counterfeit bill in trade.
"Try to stall them if you can," Barber said, "Get a visual discription, or a tag number would be great."
APD officials warn that it is a crime to recirculate counterfeit money. To report any receipt of counterfeit bills, call the Albany Police Department's detective division at (229) 431-3288.