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Fake bills increase in holiday shopping

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More counterfeit bills are popping up in area cash registers and wallets, and investigators are preparing for the season of fake money.

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Kmart general manager James Klugh holds a counterfeit ten dollar bill.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Kmart general manager James Klugh holds a counterfeit ten dollar bill.

As the holiday shopping season gets closer, the frequency of fake money appearing tends to increase, said Sgt. Randy Hayes, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Technical Crimes division.

"It's gone up a little bit," Sgt. Hayes said, "but it will pick up worse during the holidays."

Recently, he said, authorities have been seeing people "washing" the ink off $5 bills and printing $20s or $100s on top.

"These color printers are killing us when it comes to stuff like this," he said. "We'll get twenties that have Abe Lincoln watermarks on them."

The technology for making fake money is outpacing authorities' ability to detect it, according to James Klugh, the general manager for Kmart on Washington Road. He said the pen many cashiers use to mark and detect fake bills is being foiled by new counterfeiting techniques. Mr. Klugh keeps one of those bills, a ten, posted on the wall in his office.

"It's scary," he said. "With counterfeiting it's probably going to be a tough year. The best thing you can do is increase the awareness of the personnel."

Cases involving counterfeit bills are classified as first-degree forgeries and are not tracked separately by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. Forgery cases have increased from 856 between January and September 2008 to 907 during the same time this year, according to sheriff's office statistics.

October, November and December were the three highest months for forgeries in Richmond County last year.

Columbia County averages a dozen to 24 forgery cases a year, sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said. He said the county had no cases in October.

"It fluctuates month to month," he said.

Aiken County has yet to experience any uptick in counterfeiting, Sgt. Dave Myers said. He said the holidays are a difficult time for such cases because more people are out spending money.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or


To learn how to spot counterfeit bills, visit or


- Look at the portrait on your bill. A real portrait appears lifelike and will stand out from the background. Fake ones are often flat, and details merge into the background.

- On real currency, the saw-toothed points on the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are sharp. The counterfeit seals might have blunt or uneven points.

- The lines along the border of a real bill are clear and unbroken. On a fake, the lines and scrollwork might be blurry.

- Real serial numbers have a distinctive style and will be evenly spaced. They are printed in the same color ink as the Treasury Seal. On a fake bill, the numbers might be in a different color and not uniformly spaced.

- Check the paper. Real currency has tiny red and blue fibers embedded in it. Counterfeiters will try to copy the fibers by printing red and blue lines on the paper.


It's important to check your money as soon as you receive change, said Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. Randy Hayes. Look for signs of a counterfeit bill before you leave, otherwise you might be stuck with it. If you find a counterfeit bill, contact local law enforcement.

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bettyboop 11/04/09 - 06:45 am
Just ask barry...he's

Just ask barry...he's printing the biggest batch of funny money this Country has ever seen.............

punter46 11/04/09 - 07:36 am
Hey Ms Boop!, Who is Barry?

Hey Ms Boop!, Who is Barry?

LadyCisback 11/04/09 - 07:38 am
this article just gave the

this article just gave the people that forge money what not to do when they are forging money..

Boston93 11/04/09 - 09:00 am
Notifying the public is

Notifying the public is great. LadyCisback, if they are making counterfeit money and have to change, then that is more work for them and that is what they are trying to do to scam you so that thay don't have to work. In my opinion they are doing us a favor allowing us to try not to get them. Only suggestion is that they show each type side by side in the paper so that we will be able to cut it out and be able to compare visually to avoid getting counterfeits. At least they now have the marker that helps and thats a plus. If you accidently get a counterfeit and try to spend it and the store/employee identifies it and calls the law, you will most likely end up in a cell until you can prove you didn't make it. Give this article a plus.

quickfeet 11/04/09 - 10:12 am
hey punter. barry is barack

hey punter. barry is barack the majic printer.. people better wake up. the said news is that it may be to late and when they do wake up it will be to the stark reality that this country is history... flat borock....

andrew412 11/04/09 - 04:05 pm
the sad news is quickfeet

the sad news is quickfeet doesn't know how to spell or use proper grammar. too bad... stupidity is a sin!

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