Photo courtesy of the Kingsport Police Department.
Following eight additional reports of fake money over the weekend, Kingsport police are now offering several tips for revealing phony bills, while noting that detector pens won't alert to some counterfeiting techniques being deployed.
On Friday, the Kingsport Police Department first warned businesses and the general public about an excessive amount of counterfeit cash circulating through the city. According to KPD Det. Martin Taylor, a dozen incidents had been reported to police in the last week, with approximately 30 since the beginning of June.
And while counterfeit detector pens are the most widely used and quickest form of detecting counterfeit bills, that method has proven unsuccessful in some of the Kingsport cases.
That's because some of the bills in Kingsport are true currency, said KPD Public Information Officer Tom Patton, but have been altered to represent higher denominations. Police say counterfeiters are "bleaching" $5 and $10 bills, then reprinting them as $20s, $50s and $100s.
"As long is they use that base paper, detector pens won't indicate that it's counterfeit," said Patton.
Kingsport police report there are other methods for determining if cash is fake, beginning with the watermark.
Watermarks are visible when held up to the light, showing the president's face. When the "bleaching" method is used to misrepresent currency, the face in the watermark will not match the face printed on the bill.
Patton reports that except for $1 bills, genuine cash also displays a security thread when held up to the light, reading "USA FIVE" or "USA TEN" or another value. Again, when bleaching is employed, the security thread value will not match that which is printed.
Kingsport police also advise that each bill should contain a unique serial number. When counterfeiters fake currency, according to Patton, they will often not take the time to change the serial number, hence, if you receive multiple bills at the same time, take a second to verify that no two bills have the exact same serial number, suggested Patton. If they do, at least one of the bills is a counterfeit.
Police say that if examination of cash reveals it's fake, don't give it back to a customer, or use it to pay for something at a business — reporting counterfeit currency to authorities is required by law.
Kingsport police are taking reports on the incidents, then passing along that information to the Secret Service for further investigation.