Counterfeit money in the United States has become such a prevalent problem that it is possible you could receive counterfeit money in your change when you buy something at major retailers such as Walmart.
Most large retailers don’t want to spend the money or time to properly train their employees in how to spot counterfeit money. Instead, they rely upon those marking pens that contain ink that supposedly changes color when marked on counterfeit money.
The reason the ink would change color when marked on a counterfeit note is that almost all counterfeit notes are made of paper.
Money is not made of paper, it is made of cloth, a blend of 25% linen and 75% cotton. That’s why money feels the way it does.
But most do not realize that many of those pens will tell you the same thing when marked on ordinary newspaper – it’s real! Many of those counterfeit note marking pens do not work. Very few people think to test them and are unaware of this.
So it is very possible a store clerk will take in counterfeit money and put it in the till without realizing it is fake.
Of course, the clerk also makes change out of the same till, and gives the same fake money to an unsuspecting customer.
You might even have counterfeit money in your billfold right now and not even know it.
Real or counterfeit – can you tell the difference?
Most Americans don’t have a clue.
One of the easiest ways to tell is to feel it. Since real money is printed on cloth, if you feel copier paper it’s most likely fake.
College students are not the brightest people on Earth. They will buy the most advanced color copiers and simply make copies of a $10 note or a $20 note and try to pass them around town.
They forget that not only does it not feel like cloth, but every single note will have the exact same serial number as the original.
If someone hands you two or more notes of the same denomination, check the serial numbers. If they match, call the police immediately because one or all of them are counterfeit.
There are methods counterfeiters will use to get around the problem of it feeling like paper and the serial numbers not being different.
One of the most common methods is to take four $10 notes or four $20 notes and cut one corner from each of them and glue those corners onto a one-dollar note.
All of a sudden these $1 notes turn into fake $10 notes or fake $20 notes that not only feel like real notes but also have different serial numbers. They will also pass the counterfeit pen test.
They then use these doctored notes to buy items for only a dollar or two and the clerk gives them real money back as change (assuming the clerk hasn’t previously taken in counterfeit notes unknowingly, of course.)
Not knowing they just put a doctored note into the till, they subsequently give it to an unsuspecting customer as change. It could be you.
It’s easy to pass doctored notes like this because people do not look at the note itself. They only glance at the number in the corner. If it has a 10 in the corner, it must be a $10 note, right?
If they were to actually look at the note, they would discover it is doctored because the wrong President is on it.
Everyone knows Washington is on the $1 note. He is not on the $10 note nor the $20 note.
Do you know which President is on the $2 note? On the $5?
Who is on the $10 note? Who is on the $20 note? The $50 note? The $100 note?
Not knowing could cost you.
Memorizing which President should be on which note is one way to help you detect a counterfeit note and avoid being cheated out of your hard-earned money.
It is not a crime to be in possession of a counterfeit note unless you are trying to defraud someone by giving it to them to purchase something. If you do, you could receive 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. (USC Title 18, Section 472)
(Answers: Thomas Jeffferson is on the $2, Abraham Lincoln is on the $5, Alexander Hamilton is on the $10, Andrew Jackson is on the $20, Hiram Grant is on the $50 (Grant’s first name is not Ulysses, as commonly thought.) and Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 note.)