, 2014

Passing the (funny) buck

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

KILMARNOCK—Business owners need to know their money. It’s a warning from Kilmarnock Police Chief Mike Bedell and the U.S. Secret Service.

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A new $100 note

This redesigned $100 note will begin circulating in October this year. It incorporates new security features such as a blue, 3-D security ribbon and will be more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.

Bedell has been working with the Secret Service since late April when he first received reports of counterfeit money being passed at several Kilmarnock businesses.

“What we’re dealing with here are three different batches of counterfeit money coming in from three different sources,” he said.

According to Bedell, the first source was a shipment of seized counterfeit money being transported for destruction by the Secret Service from its Nebraska office to Washington, D.C. The shipment was stolen and the counterfeit money recirculated. Based on the tracking numbers, the money has been distributed as far north as Northumberland County and as far south as Hampton, said Bedell.

Some of the stolen money, mostly $100 and $50 bills, were used for purchases at Kilmarnock’s Get & Zip and Walmart stores and White Stone’s 7-11, said Bedell.

A second batch of manufactured $100 bills, also used mainly at the Get & Zip and Walmart, has been traced back to Westmoreland County, where several people have been arrested, said Bedell.

That money has been used from Essex and Westmoreland counties all the way to Raleigh, N.C., he said.

The third batch is another group of $100 bills showing up locally and in the Hampton Roads area.

“We had three different batches so we’ve been chasing hundreds in all different directions,” said Bedell.

The Secret Service has been in the Northern Neck area following leads since late April, he added.

Avery Lefevre, 30, of Hartfield has been charged with two felonies in connection to the counterfeit money. Lefevre has been charged with possession of 10 or more counterfeit bills with intent to use, distribute or sell them, and with a felony for passing a bill in conjunction with a purchase.

“Business owners first should just be aware and note if a bill looks funny,” said Bedell.

Apparently some of the money was printed on currency paper that had been bleached out and the denomination changed. Manager Dan Howard’s staff at the Get & Zip normally uses a highlighting pen to test the bills. Unfortunately, these counterfeits were printed on currency paper and passed the pen test.

Several features of a counterfeit, including lines that read five, fifty or one hundred, can only be seen using an ultraviolet light, said Bedell.

“We’ve got an ultraviolet light now,” said Howard, “and we’re trying to pay a little closer attention.”

Counterfeits have also turned up in Middlesex, Northumberland and Richmond counties, and several of the 10 people Bedell interviewed who unknowingly used them said they received the money from area banks.

The U.S. Secret Service website lists several features of U.S. currency that can be verified by examination. Business owners should check the site for tips on detecting counterfeits, said Bedell.

“To the naked eye, I think counterfeiters can get the front of the bills to match pretty good,” he said. “But not the back, according to the Secret Service. The back should tip you off more than the front.”

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