Senior Special Agent K.C. Allman of the U.S. Secret Service spoke to the crowd of business owners and employees about identifying counterfeit money and protecting their businesses against the loss of taking a fake bill.
Allman detailed the security features of each bill, including red and blue fibers in the paper, microprinting on the bill, distinctive watermarks, optical varying ink printing and other items that are difficult, if not impossible to duplicate.
According to Allman, there was approximately $261 million in counterfeit U.S. currency in the United States in 2011.
The attendees also learned about the various types of counterfeit printing, including people who use standard printers and those who use “bleach washing” to alter the amount of a bill. This method involves “washing” a real $1 or $5 bill and changing it to look like a $50 or $100 bill.
According to Allman, currently about 90 percent of the counterfeit arrests involve digital counterfeiting and approximately 15 percent involve juveniles.
Allman said that there are many ways to detect counterfeit currency, although the popular pens often used to mark bills may not be the most reliable way.
“There are just better ways to detect counterfeit bills,” Allman told the audience.
He said the best weapon in avoiding counterfeit currency is well-trained, observant personnel. He also advocates the use of a magnifying glass and possibly even a blacklight to help pick up the hidden security features.
“If they see your sales clerk pull out a magnifying glass and look, and look up at the light and look for the security features, they may decide to go somewhere else,” Allman said.
The SBA was created this year to facilitate a partnership between local business owners, Sumiton Police Department and Sumiton Fire and Rescue. This class came from a request at the first organizational meeting for more information on the topic, as well as the fact that two Sumiton businesses have recently fallen victim to counterfeiters, one with a fake $100 bill and another will a fake $20 bill.
Allman, who is based in Birmingham, said he would be glad to speak to other area groups or individual businesses and teach employees how to identify counterfeit currency and what to do if they suspect a bill may be fake. The Secret Service’s Birmingham office can be reached at (205)731-1144.