Police unamused by funny money

UPD seeks culprits in counterfeit cash infusion

Julye Keeble

Staff writer

With 11 forgery cases reported in December and three reports so far in January, the use of counterfeit currency appears to be on the rise in Uvalde.

On Tuesday, at 9:58 a.m., Uvalde Police Department officers were dispatched to H-E-B at 201 E. Main St. for a report of possibly fake money. A man who was attempting to purchase items at the store had proffered five $20 bills as payment, at least two of which were suspected to be counterfeit as they appeared to have matching serial numbers.

The man reported he had received payment in cash for work he had done, and offered to have other money in his possession examined.

The details of the case are still being investigated, but UPD Lieutenant Mariano Pargas Jr. recommends using caution when accepting cash payments.

“If you have any doubts at all call the police, and try not to give the person the money back as we can use it to make a case,” Pargas said.

He said convenience stores such as Stripes and 5-Point Markets have experienced incidents, as have local bars and other cash-based businesses.

Though UPD used to see $50 and $100 bills, Pargas reported that now smaller denomination bills are often being passed, of $20 and less. “A lot of stores don’t check $5 or $10 bills, and they can be easier to pass,” Pargas said.

The bills are not fake currency such as that used in motion pictures, but rather are believed to be printed by individuals with fraudulent intent.

Pargas says the criminal investigation division of UPD has received several tips and are investigating possible suspects that may be creating the fake currency.

Detecting fakes

For those who do not have access to an iodine-based counterfeit detection pen, which reacts to paper fibers to alert users of forgeries, there are other built-in security features embedded in modern currency they can use to detect fakes.

According to www.uscurrency.gov, the current design of $5 notes feature subtle background colors of light purple and gray, and two watermarks visible from both sides of the note when held to light. Look for a vertical pattern of three fives to the left of the portrait and a large five located in the blank space to the right of the portrait.

The current $10 bill design has orange, yellow and red background colors. When held to light, a portrait watermark of Alexander Hamilton is visible from both sides of the note. In addition, the note includes a color-shifting number 10 in the lower right corner of the note.

Background colors of green and peach are featured on current $20 bills, and a portrait watermark of President Andrew Jackson is visible from both sides of the note when held to the light. A color-shifting number 20 should appear in the lower right corner of the note.

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