By Chris Klint
Channel 2 News
6:20 PM AKST, January 15, 2013
Wasilla police are investigating a wave of counterfeit bills passed at quick-service stores that have left nearly a dozen local businesses out more than $3,300, most of it in small amounts.
According to WPD investigator Ruth Josten, U.S. Secret Service investigators have visited local police to examine the false bills, including a few with face values of $100 but most of which have lesser denominations from $5 to $20.
Although the bills are printed on high-quality paper that looks real, they feel different from legal tender and lack security features (PDF) like watermarks, color-shifting ink and embedded threads visible when held up to light.
While Josten declined to identify specific stores that had received the money, she said at least 10 businesses including gas stations, restaurants with drive-through windows and large retail stores have reported finding the same kind of bills. She says the locations where they’re passed -- with long lines, high turnover and young cashiers -- have been carefully chosen for purchases ranging from fuel to gift cards.
“They’re being used at a place where things move pretty quickly and people don’t take the time to check,” Josten said.
Related counterfeiting incidents date back about a year, but WPD says most of the bills in the case have been passed within the last two months. Josten refused to say whether investigators believe a small number of people are passing the fake money, or whether other people have been helping to do so.
Josten urges Wasilla businesses to be aware of the threat, more closely inspect money and use ink pens that can rapidly identify suspect bills.
“Just take an extra minute and make sure your business isn’t being hit,” she said.
On the other side of the counter, Josten also asks customers not to be offended by steps to detect the counterfeit notes and remove them from the local money supply.
“The money is making its shift around town now,” she said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Mat-Su Crimestoppers anonymously at 745-3333 or submit a tip at its website. A reward of up to $1,000 is available for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.
Contact Chris Klint
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