Fake $50 U.S. bills are being passed at Victoria businesses in exchange for merchandise.
Three incidents of fraud were reported to Victoria police this week, prompting them to issue a warning Friday.
A store in the 700-block of Fort St. received fake money from a customer on Sunday (Jan. 15). The very next day another business on the same block reported that it had fallen victim to counterfeit cash.
In the third case, Island Savings Credit Union at the Mayfair Shopping Centre told investigators that a fake bill had been passed to a business in the mall earlier this week.
It’s not often that Victoria police have reason to speak to the public about counterfeit U.S. currency, said Const. Greg Shaw, a detective with the Victoria Police Department’s financial crimes section.
In a YouTube video posted today (Friday), Shaw shows viewers how to pick out funny money.
Counterfeit U.S. bills may not have crisp and clear images and, when held up to a light source, a watermark mirror image of the American president’s profile picture could be missing, he said.
“There’s nothing there in this bill,” said Shaw, holding a fake $50 U.S. bill.
The bill size may not be accurate, and the papery texture of the counterfeit bill may be another giveaway, he said, adding that true U.S. Federal Reserve notes are made of a cotton-linen blend.
“You can tell by looking at it and feeling it that this one’s not cloth, it’s actual paper,” Shaw said. “Right away that’s a bit of a red flag for me.”
Police urge all businesses to report any suspect currency.
“If you happen to be a business owner and you encounter what you believe to be counterfeit currency in your cash flow of the day, what we encourage you to do is save that bill and contact the Victoria Police Department,” Shaw said, adding that video footage from businesses may also help.
A suspect in the first two incidents is described by police as a white male, between 20 and 30 years old, five-foot-nine with short brown hair.
Funny money facts: (courtesy U.S. Secret Service)
– Genuine paper currency has tiny red and blue fibres embedded throughout.
– The centre portrait should appear lifelike and stand out from the background. The background should not be dark or mottled.
– The U.S. Federal Reserve and Department of the Treasury seals on bills should appear sharp and clear.
– Serial numbers should be evenly spaced and printed in the same ink colour as the seal.
– The lines of the bill’s border should be clear and unbroken, not blurred.
Learn how to identify counterfeit U.S. bills from Const. Greg Shaw, a detective with the Victoria police financial crimes section, by watching the following YouTube video: http://youtu.be/KUvJoI7lz-0