Teens cashing in on counterfeit bills - AmericaNowNews.com

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Teens cashing in on counterfeit bills

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    How to spot counterfeit cash

    Tips on how to spot counterfeit cash

    The United States Secret Service says that counterfeiting of U.S. currency could victimize anyone who doesn't carefully examine the money they're using.
    The United States Secret Service says that counterfeiting of U.S. currency could victimize anyone who doesn't carefully examine the money they're using.

Here is a new alert about an old crime. The U.S. Secret Service warns that counterfeiting is increasing as computers replace "offset printing" to create fake dollars. Even worse? Many of these currency crooks are tech-savvy teenagers trying to swindle people.

In Indiana, investigators say nearly a dozen teens passed fake twenties at a local McDonald's and at their school's sporting events.

In Texas, two boys were caught passing bogus bucks in their high school cafeteria. And teens have also been arrested in 15 other states, including Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia and California.  

According to Lt. Alan Hamilton of the Los Angeles Police Department, high-tech home scanners and printers make it easier than ever for counterfeiters to produce authentic-looking bills.

America Now's Leeza Gibbons met up with the Lt. Hamilton at the LAPD for a first-hand look at how teen counterfeiters do it and why they often get away with it.

"Unfortunately, they may be using the family printer. You know, you have some of these high-tech, sophisticated printers where they can print both sides even and a lot of people have them in their home office," Hamilton explains.

He says counterfeiting appeals to teens because the risk of being caught is low and the penalties aren't that severe for juveniles.

"The thing about our juvenile justice system is it's set up to give kids a second chance when they become adults," says Hamilton. "Now, if you have teens and they are in an organized ring and you're talking about high dollar amounts, tens of thousands of dollars, they're going to take action on that."

Hamilton says it's difficult to recreate the texture of true legal tender. But some teen counterfeiters are overcoming that challenge by starting with genuine singles, removing their ink with solvents, and reprinting them in higher denominations – a technique they can learn to do on the Internet.

So, for example, kids are taking a one-dollar bill, washing it clean, and then running it through as a hundred dollar bill.

"They usually don't go with the high denominations because it usually attracts too much scrutiny," Hamilton notes. "They wash that bill, they put it back in that printer, they line it up and then they'll send it through when they think they have it just right."

So what can parents do to prevent this?

"Quite often you'll find altered money around the house. The bills look faded, maybe they look like they're really, really worn. You might see maybe paper that's in the shape of a currency and then you see that it's blank. You may see inks around that might not be connected to that school project, that might tell you that something suspicious is going on," says Hamilton.

Maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency is everyone's responsibility, according to the Secret Service. So if you come across money in your wallet that looks fake, compare it with a genuine bill and look for differences.

And if you suspect a teenager you know is a counterfeiter, remember these warning signs:

  • Faded or washed bills
  • Pieces of paper cut to the size of dollar bills
  • Solvents that are used to remove ink
  • A large supply of green printer cartridges

Hamilton says it's important for teenagers to know counterfeiting is a federal offense. And jail time  -- no matter how short the sentence -- and a criminal record is a hefty price to pay.

"You will be watched for the rest of your life, and they'll want to make sure those skills won't be used for counterfeiting down the road," Hamilton warns.

If you think you've been passed a counterfeit bill, help preserve the evidence by limiting your handling of the note. Instead, place it carefully in a protective covering like an envelope and turn it in to your local police department or contact the Secret Service directly.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

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