Check your wallet: Secret Service has advice for verifying bills after recent counterfeiting case

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Making money can lead to financial freedom but making counterfeit money can lead straight to jail. 

That’s where a Santaquin man currently sits awaiting trial for forgery.
Utah County prosecutors say 40-year-old Sandy Van Smith manufactured phony bills then used them to buy prepaid Visa cards at a Walgreens in Provo and a Walmart in Pleasant Grove.

They allege he used the debit cards to pay dealers for illegal drugs and charged him with 24 felonies including forgery, money laundering and theft by deception.

Special Agent David Thompson of the U.S. Secret Service’s Salt Lake City office advises customers and cashiers to always check bills for a security strip and hold the bill up to a light to see the watermark. He says that sophisticated criminals can use ink jet printers to transform ones into hundreds and fifties. 

“Counterfeiters have actually used bleaching procedures on genuine currency to take off all of the ink,” Agent Thompson told ABC4 News. “It doesn’t affect the watermark though so look at it, make sure the watermark actually matches the denomination of the currency.”

Agent Thompson says these altered bills can even get past those pens cashiers use to verify authenticity.

“Counterfeiters know that the pens that are used by cashiers and by merchants,” he said. “It’s a way they can defeat that process as well because the ink of the iodine is what reacts to the actual currency which is not really paper but it’s a type of fabric.”

If you think you may have received a counterfeit bill call your local police department and whatever you do don’t try to spend it or you could wind up locked up.

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