Fake money more common than you may think - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Fake money more common than you may think

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Source: U.S. Secret Service Source: U.S. Secret Service
Source: U.S. Secret Service Source: U.S. Secret Service
Source: U.S. Secret Service Source: U.S. Secret Service
Source: U.S. Secret Service Source: U.S. Secret Service

Investigators say counterfeit money is popping up everywhere; the corner store, the big-box store and even the local school.

The United States Secret Service has been investigating counterfeit money since the 1860's. When the Civil War ended one-third of all U.S. currency was counterfeit.

Because of the ongoing effort to stop it, it's not that big of problem now but it's still pretty common. Resident Agent in Charge of the Secret Service here in Charleston, John Kenney says while the methods have changed there are people who still make it and pass it on. The cash usually begins to circulate with other criminal activity.

"Money like this is traveling in drug circles guys are ripping each other off."

And then it gets into the system until it's discovered usually by the already duped store manager or the bank where the buck finally stops.

In most cases today's local counterfeiter is not equipped with a meticulous criminal mind. They are equipped with some basic modern technology and they not that ambitious going for pass of smaller bills to keep suspicion low said Kenney. "Most of what we see especially in the low country is going to be computer generated; it literally can be done by almost anybody."

Anybody, including school aged kids recently counterfeit bills popped up at North Charleston Elementary when police say a 5th grader passed a fake $20 for a couple bags of chips. He told police he received the money from an adult before school.

At Garrett Academy recently there was another incident when a student passed a $10 to a cafeteria worker to pay for lunch. Kenney says it's not always the adults kids are catching on to the counterfeiting game as well.

"Beginning of every school year we have some kids who decide to try in the computer lab or that library where they have some notes and they pass it to the poor ladies at the cafeteria or the school store and it happens every year and it happens at all our high schools and we wind up getting calls from school resource officers."

It's not that hard to believe that in recent months you, yourself held counterfeit bill and unknowingly passed it. Even Agent Kenney is reluctant to admit his own mother was a victim. He says when it comes to identifying the fake cash it's not so much look but the feel.

"We asked you to familiarize yourself with the security features that are already in the bill such as the feel of the paper, such as the good quality printing…remember that good quality ink doesn't run."

 

 

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