Lufkin Police Department:
LUFKIN (KYTX) - On Thursday, February 7, 2013, an employee of M&B Food Mart, located at 708 North Raguet Street, reported that around 7:28 p.m. an unidentified male suspect attempted to pass counterfeit currency at the business. The employee inspected the currency presented by the suspect and determined that the paper was that of a $1 bill from which the ink had been removed. When the employee confronted the suspect about the counterfeit bill, he fled from the store.
Bill washing appears to be the technique used in this case. Counterfeiters "wash" the ink off a low denomination bill, typically a $5 bill, by using any number of different solvent solutions, including some common household cleaners. If performed properly, the washing process does not harm the paper or certain security characteristics of the original bill. This leaves the counterfeiter a blank piece of genuine currency paper upon which to print a larger denomination bill, typically a $100 bill.
The washed counterfeit note will pass the "counterfeit pen" test because the pen merely tests the paper, which would be genuine US currency paper. If the original bill was a $5 bill or higher denomination, the fake bill will have the anti-counterfeiting features one expects to find in genuine currency, including red and blue fibers embedded in the paper, a watermark that is visible from either side of the bill, and an embedded polyester strip inscribed with the denomination of the bill that is visible when held up to light and glows in ultraviolet light. Of course, these security features will be correct only for the original bill but they might pass a casual "eye-ball" inspection.
Ultraviolet light counterfeit detection devices are capable of identifying this type of "washed" bills because the embedded security threads will the proper color for the original bill, not for the larger denomination. A $5 bill security thread will glow blue whereas a $100 bill should appear as a very pale pink.
While technology is available to assist with detecting counterfeit currency, anyone who knows what to look for can quickly and easily spot funny money. Information concerning the features of genuine Federal Reserve Notes online at www.secretservice.gov/know_your_money.shtml. Anyone who doubts that a bill is genuine should contact their local police department.
Converting fake money to genuine currency is the goal of most persons passing counterfeit money. One simple way to achieve their goal is to purchase items of little value and "pay" with a larger-than-necessary bill, such as using a counterfeit $20, $50, or $100 bill to pay for a few dollars' worth of merchandise. If not caught by the store employee, the counterfeit bill can make its way to another customer.
Counterfeiters also sell the counterfeit bills; offering several hundred dollars of fake bills in exchange for a few dollars of genuine bills. If the suspicions of Lufkin PD investigators are correct, counterfeiters recently employed this bill-selling technique in Lufkin and East Texas businesses could soon see an increase in attempts to pass counterfeit currency.
Anyone with information concerning persons involved in counterfeiting money in the East Texas area can call Crime Stoppers of Lufkin at (936) 639-TIPS or submit an anonymous tip at LufkinCrimeStoppers.com. Crime Stoppers tipsters never have to give their name and Crime Stoppers may pay a cash reward for information that leads to a felony arrest.