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Counterfeit money showing up in Kershaw County

Posted: July 31, 2014 4:53 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Several businesses in Camden and Kershaw County have reported receiving counterfeit money during the past several weeks, but law enforcement officials say they don’t believe the fake bills are being produced in Kershaw County. Instead, official believe the counterfeit bills are unknowingly being brought to the area by people who received them elsewhere.

Camden Police Department (CPD) Capt. Mike Stone said Myrtle Beach has a much larger counterfeiting problem than Kershaw County, but visitors to the coastal tourist area receive some counterfeit bills as change from Myrtle Beach businesses, then bring them back here and innocently try to use them at local merchants.

“As residents here go and visit Myrtle Beach, they come back from vacation and some of these people are bringing counterfeit money back with them in their pocket,” Stone said. “They end up passing it here and somebody finds it here.”

Stone said some of the reportedly counterfeit bills turned out to be genuine on closer examination.

“Some of them ended up being real. They thought they were counterfeit but they were not, because of the way they felt and so forth,” he said.

Counterfeiting is a federal crime and Stone said verified cases are referred to the Secret Service department of the federal government.

“We need to be aware of it and find out what we can, then we forward that information on to the Secret Service, who obviously are working a much bigger case nationwide,” he said. “The information we can give them a lot of times is not really helping them at all, because the person who passed the bill here did so completely unknowingly.”

Stone said the bills are most often discovered in a bank deposit or a store’s cash drawer, making it nearly impossible to trace where they came from. Stone said anyone finding a suspected counterfeit bill should call the police.

“On some occasions, if the person is still there that they got the bill from, then we’re trying to find out if that person is out passing counterfeit money, do they have more (counterfeit) money, are they doing this elsewhere or if they even knew (the money was fake),” Stone said. “We haven’t had anybody here who we’ve caught who is actually counterfeiting the money, meaning making the bill. The vast majority of the people we have contact with that have been passing these bills are doing so without knowing it.”

Stone said businesses or banks who receive counterfeit bills are reimbursed by the Secret Service or the U.S. Mint. He said some fake bills look quite genuine, but the federal government has added elements to the bills to discourage counterfeiters.

“Look for the magnetic strip that’s inside. Look for the watermark on the bills. The older bills don’t have some of the security features that the newer bills do,” he said. “Computers can make a very good replica of a bill, but they can’t replicate the fibers within the paper, the strip that’s in the fibers and the watermarks that are on these bills.”

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said there have been only two counterfeit cases recently reported to his office.

“Both were at gas stations. One was a $100 bill, the other was a $50 bill. We have surveillance footage of the guys who passed them,” Matthews said.

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