In Memphis, Tennessee, two early morning Black Friday shoppers were arrested for passing counterfeit bills. Police confiscated a total of about $1,600 in fake bills, computer equipment to make fake bills, and methamphetamine. The circumstances are similar to earlier cases, such as the case in Oklahoma City in which two people were arrested after a raid at their home. Police found large amounts of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, along with several sheets of counterfeit 20-dollar bills. Materials and equipment for making fake currency were found in a home in Santa Rosa, California, during a raid. In addition to counterfeit bills the police found drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine. Not that long ago counterfeiting was a difficult and expensive operation. The best counterfeiters were skilled printers who used heavy offset presses to turn out pretty convincing 20s, 50s, and 100s. Doing so required the ability to cut intricate designs by hand into metal plates. Not anymore. A lot of teenagers in this country can tell you that all you need to make fake money nowadays are a PC, a scanner, and color inkjet printer. (Of course, those teenagers are usually caught in no time, since it’s not easy to produce truly authentic-looking bills.) In case after case of counterfeiting you will see drug use implicated – particularly methamphetamine. Meth addicts often steal mail and commit other property crimes to get their hands on the money they need for their habit. They can stay awake and focused on repetitive tasks for days, making them good at such crimes as forgery, identity theft, altering checks, and trying to perfect counterfeit currency. Millions of dollars worth of counterfeit cash is supposed to be in circulation in the United States, and there’s usually an uptick in detection during the holidays. Counterfeiters see this as the ideal time to try to pass fake bills; that’s when they think they’re more likely to get away with it. A business that ends up with counterfeit bills doesn’t get compensated for the loss and usually raises prices to make up for it. If you end up with a counterfeit bill, the US Secret Service wants you to tell them. They say to notify your local police department or the nearest Secret Service field office. There’s no financial compensation for turning it in, though. Central banks say that to do so would subsidize counterfeiting, providing a financial reward for counterfeiters’ criminal behavior. Turning it in is just another civic duty.
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