Lufkin Police: "Bill washing" may lead to increase of counterfeit money in ETX

Lufkin Police:

POSTED: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 12:35pm

UPDATED: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 4:14pm

Lufkin Police are looking for a man who reportedly tried to use counterfeit money at a convenience store, just after 7:00pm on Thursday.

An employee of the M&B Food Mart on the 700 block of North Raguet St. told police that a hispanic male tried to use the what appeared to be a $100 bill. However, after further inspection, the employee discovered that it was actually a $1 bill. The ink had been removed.

When the employee asked the man about the counterfeit bill, he ran away from the store.

Lufkin Police tell KETK that the bill was the result of a process called "bill washing". Counterfeiters literally "wash" the ink off of a lower denomination bill, typically $5 bills, by using different solutions, such as household cleaners.

If the method is done correctly, the washing process will not harm the paper or the security characteristics of the original bill, which give the criminal a blank canvas on which to print a higher denomination bill, such as the $100 bill used in Thursday's crime.

The counterfeit note will pass the counterfeit pen test because the pen only tests the paper, which would still be genuine US currency paper.

If the original bill is $5 or higher, the fake bill will still include the anti-counterfeiting features like the red and blue fibers that are embedded in the paper, and the watermark that can be seen on either side of the bills. There is also an embedded polyester string inscribed in the bill that can be seen when it is held up to light. That strip would also be preserved win a "bill washing".

While these anti-counterfeiting measures would only be accurate for the original, lower denomination bill, they would still pass a casual 'naked-eye' test.

Ultraviolet light counterfeit detection devices are capable of identifying this type of "washed" bill because of the color that the embedded threads will glow a specific color, based on the denomination of the bill. For example, 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 can be found online by clicking HERE.

Anyone who doubts that a bill is genuine should contact their local police department, as the M&B Food Fast employee did.

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  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.

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