Oxford police see more counterfeit money in city

n The incidences are scattered, but the chief said, “It’s shown up pretty strong.”
By Errol Castens
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
OXFORD – Police Chief Mike Martin’s department sees frequent appearances of counterfeit money.
“We have this every once in a while,” he said Wednesday. “It’s shown up pretty strong lately.”
In March, he said, the department was called in about 10 times when phony money showed up at businesses throughout Oxford.
On Tuesday night, for instance, two businesses reported counterfeit bills totaling $90. Most of the reported fake money has been in denominations of $5, $10 and $20, but one instance included a counterfeit $100.
“A lot of this stuff was getting by store clerks, but the banks were catching it in deposits,” Martin said. “Now the clerks are doing a better job.”
Martin said no pattern had shown up in the passing of counterfeit money, but he is sharing his information with the Secret Service, the arm of the department directly responsible for investigating counterfeiting and other threats to the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems.
Allen Bryant, agent-in-charge of the Jackson office of the U.S. Secret Service, said Oxford’s uptick is not a widespread trend, but counterfeiting is an ongoing possibility in any community.
“It may or may not be related to the economy,” he said.
How can consumers protect themselves from receiving counterfeit bills?
“The first thing is to hold up a suspect bill next to a good one,” Bryant said. “It will usually look fake.”
His next suggestion was to look for a watermark – an internal design visible when held up to a light. Most older bills without such a mark have been retired, and $1 bills, which haven’t had the high-tech upgrades that other denominations have, are rarely counterfeited.
The Secret Service offers a Web page(www.secretservice.gov/KnowYour MoneyApril08.pdf) to help consumers and merchants become familiar with security markings that began in 1996.
In addition to watermarks, bills other than ones and fives also have color-shifting ink in the lower-right corner and clear polyester security threat embedded vertically and visible when held up to light.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens