CATEGORY: Crime

AUTHOR: GIBSON

HED:Bogus $100 bills surface in Amory

By Michaela Gibson Morris

Daily Journal

Just in time for holiday shopping, counterfeit money has popped up in Northeast Mississippi.

Four counterfeit $100 bills have surfaced in Amory this week, said Police Chief Ronnie Bowen. All of the bills were fakes of the newly designed $100 bills.

"We're not sure they're being passed by the same people," Bowen said.

The bills appeared to be photocopies or scanned copies of the $100 bills. One of the bills is a blurry copy on a piece of woodgrain paper, Bowen said. But one of the other bills is a better copy on paper that feels more like money.

None of the counterfeit bills in Amory duplicate the security features, Bowen said.

Most of the bogus bills were identified by suspicious merchants, but at least one of them was identified by a local bank, Bowen said.

Amory Police, who have reported the counterfeit bills to the U.S. Secret Service, see bogus bills sporadically each year, but they do seem to show up around the holiday shopping season, Bowen said.

Last January, Tupelo and Verona merchants saw a rash of counterfeit $20 bills. Starkville businesses also reported receiving fake $20 and $100 bills.

Tupelo Police have not received any reports of counterfeit bills during the last several months, but Capt. Harold Chaffin, chief of detectives, said he would not be surprised to see some in the next few months.

"Usually around the holiday season, we'll see some," Chaffin said.

To avoid being burned by bogus bills, Secret Service agents and local officers recommend the following tips:

- Compare suspicious bills with a genuine bill.

- Genuine bills printed since 1994 have a security strip visible on the left side when the bill is held to the light.

- New $100s and $20s have watermarks, of Ben Franklin and Andrew Jackson respectively, that are visible when the bills are held to the light.

- Bogus bills often have a fuzzy appearance, are printed on slick paper or have a poor cutting job that shows white edges.

- If the bill appears to be counterfeit, keep it, get a license number and turn the information over to local law enforcement.

If merchants accept a counterfeit bill, they likely will have to accept the loss, officers said.

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