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Real or fake? Know your money (w/video)

By Bianca Montes
July 6, 2014 at 2:06 a.m.
Updated July 7, 2014 at 2:07 a.m.


Busted

A Victoria man was arrested Wednesday after trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at the Fastop 5 in the 4000 block of U.S. Highway 59.

Dustin Valenzuela, 21, was taken into custody after a merchant at the store told officers with the Victoria Police Department that Valenzuela appeared to be using a counterfeit bill to make a purchase, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office.

Valenzuela told police he was not aware the money was fake, but further investigation revealed Valenzuela also tried to pass another counterfeit bill June 30 at a restaurant.

Valenzuela was arrested on suspicion of forgery and is being held at the Victoria County Jail in lieu of a $30,000 bond.

Counterfeit bills - or as some may call it: "funny money" - seem like they would be easy to detect. Years ago, scanners weren't such high resolution machines, and printers weren't made to almost perfectly replicate photographs. Since January, at least 32 incidents of counterfeit currency have surfaced in Victoria, costing merchants thousands of dollars in goods. While the trend began with offenders passing $100 bills, lately they've lessened chances of being exposed by using smaller denominations. The $5 counterfeit bill below was recently passed. Can you tell the difference between it and a real bill?

Portrait

Because a counterfeit bill is scanned and printed on a sheet of paper, the face tends to appear flat and lifeless and merges into the background, which is often too dark. The portrait on a genuine bill distinctly stands out from the background.

Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals

The saw-tooth points on a genuine bill are sharp, but on a counterfeit, the seals may appear uneven, blunt or broken.

Serial numbers

Serial numbers on a genuine bill have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. They are printed in the same color as the treasury seal. A difference in color, spacing and alignment is often seen on a counterfeit bill.

Border

Fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. The lines on a counterfeit bill may appear blurry.

Paper

One of the biggest differences in the counterfeit money circulating in Victoria is the feel. A genuine bill will have a fabric-like feel to it because real money is printed on linen-type material. Genuine currency paper also has tiny red and blue fibers embedded in it. Counterfeits may try to simulate the fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on the paper; however, a closer inspection will show the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper.

Online

Follow this article online to view all of the incident reports filed with the police department and watch a video of Police Chief J.J. Craig speaking about the increase in counterfeit bills being passed in Victoria.

SOURCE: U.S. Secret Service

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