Island residents urged to be on the lookout for funny money
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The U.S. Secret Service is investigating those who are behind producing bogus bucks. Every day island residents exchange money for goods, but how often do you take a look at those bills in your wallet?
At first glance, average bills wouldn't seem out of the ordinary, but U.S. Secret Service Guam resident agent in charge Kevin Clifton says a closer look reveals these to be funny money. "This one was actually a $5 bill. They bleached it out, washed all the ink off of it and if you look at it, this is actually President Lincoln, as opposed to President Grant, which is what it should be. And the security strip here says "Five Dollars, not Fifty Dollars."
Clifton says because the recent case of counterfeiting involved the use of real cash, these bogus bucks would pass the traditional iodine pen test. That's why the us secret service urges businesses to take a closer look at the watermark and the security strip in the bill. "Don't count on the iodine pen as your only indicator of whether or not it's genuine," he warned. "Use the other security features on the currency and there's a lot of security features on the currency. This particular counterfeit would fail the color shifting ink test."
The color shifting ink test can be done simply by looking at the lower-right hand corner. On genuine currency the color will shift on the monetary amount. If it doesn't, it's likely fake.
Also make sure the picture in the watermark actually matches the photo on the bill and the wording on the security strip should match the denomination of the bill.
Businesses should be wary of people who try to purchase low cost items with a $50 or $100 bill.
As KUAM News reported, Michael Basilio Badar and Reneelinette Penarubia Mesa were arrested last week accused of using a technique known as "washing" or "bleaching". The process takes actual real currency in lower denominations and with some computer scanning and printing, a larger denomination is placed on top. According to court documents Mesa admitted that she and Badar bleached more than 210 bogus bills.
While the feds were able to recover some of the money, they believe there's still more out there. "If someone becomes the victim of receiving counterfeit, then do not pass that counterfeit along because if you knowingly pass counterfeit, that person has now committee a federal crime. So a person whose become a victim can go out and make someone else a victim," Clifton said.
If you receive counterfeit money, you can contact the U.S. Secret Service at 472-7395, or contact the Guam Police Department, go to your nearest bank.