FOX19 Investigates: Spotting counterfeit bills

OAKLAND CITY, IN (WFIE) - Fake $20 have been circulating through a couple Tri-State counties, and now, the Secret Service is involved in the investigation. Even you could have counterfeit bills in your wallet.

These bills have been popping up all over some counties, like in a strip club, grocery store and even at a school.

There are some obvious signs to look for and some more that appear when the bill is held up to a light.

"When we look at the portrait of the president, the president is more life-like and stands out distinctly from the background," Oakland City Police Chief, Alec Hensley said.

An obvious difference to someone paying attention, but several $20's have made it through the hands of a landlord, a grocery store, movie rental, and even school.

"There was supposedly a student that was asking for some change, and some of that change came out to be counterfeit as well," Hensley said.

Nearly a dozen cases reported in less than a week in Oakland City.

"There were several of them that came in, in a short period of time," Hensley told 14 News.

Two fake $20's came from the Hometown IGA. If they were real, the brown marking would have disappeared, or faded to a light yellow.

"I had an employee tell me he had two $20 bills that didn't look real, and I said let's check them and when you look at them they do look a little different. When we marked them with a pen, they were counterfeit," said Homer McIntosh, the Oakland City Hometown IGA manager.

By that time, there was no tracing where the money came from.

"We still get quite a bit in cash, and I tell the employees this time of the year especially there are a lot of scams going around. So, be very aware of the money you are handling and if it looks different, let's make sure we check it," McIntosh said.

Besides using a marker, McIntosh says there were other signs.

"A lot of times counterfeit money will have a different texture, it feels different. These two $20's had some yellowing affect to them, and the paper just felt completely different," McIntosh said.

If you take a closer look, there should also be a strip saying 'Twenty' across the left side of the bill. The number 20 should be iridescent and turn from green to gold. There is also a shadow of President Jackson on the lower right side of the bill and the bill is printed on paper that is interwoven with red and blue fibers.

"We all should be cautious with the bills that we receive, business or personal through change whatever it might be. There is nothing wrong with saying, 'hey, I want to look at it first. I want to check it out first,'" Hensley said.

Hensley says unfortunately for those businesses, there really is no way to recover their money.

Most didn't notice they had counterfeit money until they closed at the end of the night.

Business owners are now taking extra precautions to hopefully prevent anymore counterfeit money exchanges.

The U.S. Secret Service has tips on its website for spotting fake currency. If you think you've been handed a counterfeit bill, you can fill-out this form and submit it to the Secret Service's Cincinnati office.

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