12 On Your Side: Spotting counterfeit money

By: Justin Fabiano Email
By: Justin Fabiano Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, May 31, 2012

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Tyron Quiller is no stranger to Craigslist. He's bought and sold lots of things on the site, including the car he now owns.

"Paid cash for it on Craigslist," he said as he showed News 12 his Chevy Impala.

He's never had a problem with the site, although he's been cautious when using it.

"I heard there was a Craigslist Killer," he said.

Since he heard of the scandal, he's always met people in a public place during the day, and he's only accepted cash. He followed his same guidelines Wednesday when he sold his iPad for $400.

"That's the ironic thing, is cash is usually the most trusted ways of paying for anything," said Cpt. Troy Elwell with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Elwell says it's ironic because investigators told Quiller someone pulled a fast one on him. The $400 he'd gotten all in $20 bills -- was fake.

"I've always been cautious about things like [getting kidnapped or robbed], but never thought about being cautious about is the money fake," he said.

To make sure the same thing that happened to Quiller doesn't happen to you, investigators have some advice on how to spot fake bills.

"If the money is off-centered on the paper," Elwell said.

There are also signs of built-in watermarks. Hold the bill up to the light, and you'll notice a security strip that runs from top to bottom. That strip also has the amount of the bill written in it.

The other watermark is of the president's face on the bill. Investigators say to take a look and make sure the faces are the same.

They say the most immediate way to tell if a bill is fake, however, is to feel the paper. They say fake bills have a different thickness. That's actually how Quiller figured it out.

"It felt kind of like a paper bag type of paper," he said.

Even that isn't a sure-fire way to tell. Investigators say now people are bleaching real U.S. currency and then reprinting the bills. If that's the case, you won't be able to feel the difference, and that is when you should double check the watermarks.

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