LUMBERTON — Police are trying to determine the source of an unusually high amount of counterfeit currency circulating in and around Lumberton.
A counterfeit $10 bill that made its way to the counter of a Hardee’s restaurant on Monday brought the number of counterfeit bills the city has seen in two weeks to about three dozen, according to police reports.
“There have been problems with counterfeiting before, but this time it seems to be a little more rampant,” police Sgt. Harold Jackson said. “We see counterfeit bills from time to time, but there’s a right good bit that’s out there right now.”
In Monday’s report, the holder of the bill said she had received the bill as change from another business; that same business had reported five days earlier receiving three counterfeit $10 bills.
“What we would like to do is just make people aware that it’s out there, especially in the businesses,” Jackson said. “We’ve seen it in 5’s, 10’s, 20’s and 50’s.”
Robeson County sheriff’s Maj. Howard Branch said that office has received more than the usual number of reports of counterfeit currency in the county, most of which come from West Lumberton and are in denominations of 10’s and 20’s.
“We’ve had several reports of counterfeit money,” he said. “We’re investigating it and trying to track down the source, but that can be hard.”
Jackson said there are several ways to tell if a bill is fake.
“It’s a little stiffer. It feels more like regular paper instead of money paper,” he said. “Also check the color of it, make sure the holograms are like they are supposed to be.”
A counterfeit-detecting pen can be purchased at office supply stores for about $5. It works by reacting with the starch in wood-based counterfeit paper to leave a dark mark.
New forms of counterfeiting are on the rise partly because of the ease and speed with which large quantities of counterfeit currency can be produced using modern photographic, printing and computer equipment, according to the website for the United States Secret Service. Manufacturing counterfeit United States currency, altering genuine currency to increase its value, or possession of counterfeit currency with fraudulent intent is punishable by a fine, imprisonment for up to 15 years, or both, according to the website.
Branch said the Sheriff’s Office has seen counterfeit currency produced in the county by simply scanning bills into a computer and printing copies.
Jackson said if a bill is encountered that is suspected of being counterfeit, police should be contacted immediately.
“Just contact the police and have them come by and check it out,” he said.