Lawton_Lawton is being flooded with counterfeit currency, and police have yet to make any arrests. Some of the money has been used to buy ingredients for meth manufacturing. Police say $1,200 in twenties and hundreds have circulated through eight businesses in town - some hit twice.
Police say this is a very serious problem, and the longer the counterfeit currency is being distributed and circulated, the harder it will be to find the source.
C&W Auto Salvage owner Kenneth Priest is one of the nine victims of the felonious crime. His wife was making a bank deposit when she noticed the bills looked a little different. "It was real thin looking and it had more color to it than what we noticed before," he says. inevitably, when the teller tested the bills for authenticity - they proved to be counterfeit.
The "monopoly money" has been found at McDonald's, Ross Department Store, and even Wal-Mart. But, that's only what they've found so far. At Stripe's Convenience Store, a man was buying lottery tickets, and one of his bills was fake. Police say he wasn't even aware, and some businesses might not be able to tell either - even with the usual detection tools like detector markers.
Police Lieutenant William Grimes says these counterfeiters are getting good at their craft. "Some of these are even passing the pen tests," he says. "A lot of times when you see this - you'll see the same serial number over and over, but we're not even seeing that." Grimes also says it's not just one person making the phony funds. Priest says he was luck they were only hit with one bill. "Glad it was just a $20 and not a $100," he says.
The LPD says some of the counterfeit cash may be coming from as far away as Wichita Falls, and the sooner they can find the criminals responsible, the sooner they can get it off the street.
Here are some tips you can use to guard against accepting counterfeit money:
- Examine the money you're receiving. Carefully inspect it for any strange colors, marks, or texture.
- Compare the bill to another that you know is legal tender - preferably the same denomination and series. Ensure the portrait, Federal Reserve and Treasury seals, paper, border and serial numbers all look the same.
- Pay close attention the paper and quality of the print on the bill.
- Look for differences in two bills - not similarities.
- Report counterfeit bills.