LAWTON, Okla._Counterfeit money is being passed to businesses all over Lawton, and no dollar denomination is safe.
The Lawton Police Department has taken reports on counterfeit bills ranging between $100 and $1. They say there have been at least nine reports of counterfeit money being passed to Lawton businesses in August and two arrests. Some of the businesses—which include gas stations, smoke shops, fast food restaurants and grocery stores—have been able to spot the fake money by the look and feel while others have caught it using a counterfeit detection pen. Some counterfeit bills weren't noticed until they were taken to the bank.
The people using the money vary as much as the bills. Some have been regular customers who had the bill unknowingly, at least one person says he found the counterfeit bill in a dumpster and one person has been charged with using counterfeit money to purchase Wal-Mart and CVS gift cards.
One of the most recent reports involved six $1 bills with the same serial number. The two people were interviewed by police and explained that they had received the $1 bills as change earlier in the day and that they were unaware of the money being counterfeit.
Captain Craig Akard of the Lawton Police Department says it's "rather odd that $1.00 bills were utilized." He went on to explain that $1 bills are not worthwhile in producing. Until they have someone in custody or talks to them during an interview, the reason such small bills were counterfeited will remain a mystery.
Captain Akard says the best option for businesses to combat the problem of counterfeit money is to purchase counterfeit detecting items. They're not always 100 percent accurate, but it is the best option. Businesses and customers should be suspicious of paper currency that feels funny or different than other paper currency.
Lawton isn't the only city experiencing a problem with counterfeit money. The Altus Police Department says counterfeit $10 and $20 bills were used at approximately 10 businesses in the first two weeks of August. Police Chief Tim Murphy encourages everyone to take some extra time to look and feel the currency that's being handed over to you. He also suggests using a currency marker to check the bill's validity.