Posted on: 07.20.2018 at 10:50 a.m.
Counterfeiters are using fake $100 bills to defraud vendors at area flea markets and yard sales, according to Whiteville Police.
The scammers are using a tactic normally reserved for retail establishments, Major Alan May said.
“A potential buyer negotiates a price, and then attempts to pay with a $100 bill, saying they have no other cash” May explained. “The price agreed upon is usually for a low amount, requiring that the seller make a large amount of change.”
The most recent incident involved a $15 purchase, for which the suspect got $85 in real money as change. This particular suspect can be easily avoided, May said, if potential victims pay close attention to the bill being offered.
“This particular bill has the word ‘REPLICA’ in the lower right corner,” he said.
Police said that vendors can avoid falling for the scam if they follow a few safety guidelines.
“Be suspicious of anyone offering to pay with a $100 bill on small amounts,” May said. “Take your time when the transaction is taking place and eliminate distractions. The more you’re multi-tasking during a sale, the more you might miss something that seems ‘off.’”
The federal government began including enhanced safety features in most currency decades ago, as scanning and printing technologies made counterfeiting much easier.
“Every denomination higher than the $1 has a security thread running vertically through the note,” May said.“It’s easy to see if you just hold the note up towards the light. The security thread is one of the most distinctive security indicators of an authentic bill. It will have ‘USA’ and the bill’s denomination, for example ‘USA 20’, running vertically on the bill.”
The newly printed $100 has an extra security feature, May said.
“There is a visible blue security ribbon down the right middle of the bill that is 3D. If you move it back and forth, you will actually see the number 100 and a variety of little bells will move from side-to-side as the bill shifts,” he said.
Police are asking that anyone approached by a scammer put their personal safety first.
“Don’t pout yourself in danger,” May said, “and don’t return the bill to the person trying to pass it. Try to remember a description of the person and their companions, if any. Note their vehicle, and license tag if you can. Then contact police immediately.”
He also suggested writing your initials and the date in the white border of the counterfeit note.
May said counterfeit scammers are often highly skilled criminals.
“If you have already fallen victim to this, you should not be embarrassed,” he said. “It is important to report any counterfeit bills that come into your possession and advise police of a possible attempt to pass suspected counterfeit money.”
Victims are encouraged to call the Whiteville Police on the non-emergency number: 910.642.5111.