Counterfeit bills found circulating in Cassville

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr and Officer Danny Boyd inspect a copy of the front and back of a counterfeit $100 bill that was discovered by Teller Lisa Thomas at Freedom Bank after a cash deposit was made by a customer last week. Both agreed it was easy to mistake the bills for real cash because the appearance was nearly identical, at face value, to a real $100 bill. Writing on the bills stating, "motion picture use only," was not noticed at first glance either. Boyd said they'd never seen anything like it. The bills can be purchased on Amazon.com, and unless closely-inspected to catch the writing, are a nearly an identical match to real greenbacks. Julia Kilmer/The Monett Times

'Motion picture' bills copycat of real money

The Cassville Police Department and local banks are advising residents to be aware of a unique type of counterfeit bill circulating.

A batch of counterfeit bills was discovered after Cassville resident Gail Purves made a recent deposit.

Cassville Police Officer Danny Boyd holds up an educational poster that explains, in depth, the differences in a counterfeit bill, advising residents and businesses to be aware of the subtle differences and not mistakenly lose their hard-earned cash. Boyd said he would be happy to provide pamphlets and posters to businesses to educate them on the differences, and advised they also educate employees who handle cash to spot the differences as well. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Purves said he had made a cash deposit early one morning last week before the bank opened, and shortly thereafter, got a call from the bank.

"They called and left a voice mail Wednesday," he said. "They said they got some bad currency in the deposit. I went in Thursday and they showed me the bills. They were counterfeit. She got them out and showed [the $100 bills] to me. She said they were made for motion picture use. It looks just like real currency."

Purves said he later found out the bills can be purchased on Amazon.com. He did not notice anything out of the ordinary, other than that two of the bills had a small tear, which, ironically, ended up being the counterfeits.

"When someone hands you a bill, you don't really read the print on it," he said. "The bank had never seen them before. You can apparently buy $50,000 worth of these for $35 on Amazon.com. But these bills were right here [circulating] in Barry County."

"They're called prop bills," said Lisa Thomas, teller at Freedom Bank who processed the bills from the deposit Purves had made. "We've never seen them, we didn't know either. They were in his group of bills in his deposit."

The description online about the bills states, "Stacks are professionally water/dye stained distressed in our clean, smoke-free facility. Colors and designs are HD quality, the best in the market and the most realistic and best looking on camera."

Thomas said what caught her attention was the way the bills felt, and that they were torn slightly,

"We touch bills all day, every day, and when I got to looking at it, the face of the president was different, too. I guess the "motion picture" thing was the last thing I really recognized. If you Google it, you will see where these bills are circulating all over the country. I think in Tennessee, up north, and in Conway, Ark., so they're showing up in different places."

Thomas said she advises residents to be sure to inspect bills.

"If you don't, they look too much like the real deal, and especially if you've got a stack," she said. "If it's [a counterfeit] slid in the middle of a stack, it's harder to detect."

The capitol building on the back of the $100 bill is also not quite the same.

"The back was really noticeable because the building was different, and it didn't have 'In God We Trust,'" Thomas said.

If counterfeit bills are discovered, banks are required to send them to a federal government agency.

"We had to send them to the Secret Service," Thomas said. "It is rare for the bank to get counterfeit bills. It doesn't happen very often. It's only happened once or twice in Cassville in the last year."

After seeing a photo copy of the counterfeit bills, Cassville Police Officer Danny Boyd said he'd never seen these types of counterfeit bills before, and agreed just how easy it was to miss the "motion picture" writing on the bills, and how easy it is to overlook subtle differences on counterfeit bills in general. He pulled out several counterfeit bills, including $5, $10 and $20 bills used for demonstration purposes, to show the difference between counterfeit bills and real greenbacks.

He said the department gets reports of counterfeit bills, on average, about once a month from local venues like Casey's or McDonald's, and smaller counterfeit bills are the most common seen.

"The bills are usually caught when they come through the bank," he said.

But the "prop" bills, were something new.

"We've never seen anything like that," he said.

Boyd said there are several tell-tale signs to look for on a counterfeit bill.

"The color can be off, or the dye can smear if wet," he said. "On a $20, when you hold it up to a window, you should see a security thread with numbers and letters on one end, not a picture, and on the other end, there should be a watermark image of President Jackson's face.

"Authentic bills are also always centered, so if an image is not centered, or there is extra space on the borders, that's a giveaway," Boyd said.

Boyd said the police department communicates with the Secret Service regarding counterfeit bills and has pamphlets, posters and counterfeit detection guides for residents who are interested in knowing the difference, or businesses who would like to post them or even conduct a training to educate employees. Boyd said he is also happy to speak to businesses about the differences between real greenbacks and counterfeit copycats.

"If a bill doesn't look right, call us and we can determine if it's real or counterfeit," he said.

For more information, Boyd can be reached at 417-847-4700, ext. 202.

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