On Aug. 19, the Ellisville Police Department was notified by a local convenience store that a customer had passed off a fake $100 bill as real currency. The customer was not identified before they paid with the fake bill and left the store, and according to Officer Joey Nickles with the Ellisville Police Department, the authorities were notified of the suspicious bill after it was successfully passed at the store’s register.
In addition to bearing slightly altered designs, the counterfeit $100 bill is also stamped with Chinese characters and markings not seen on authentic bills of the same monetary value.
“It’s clearly a fake bill,” Nickles said. “This is not one of those sophisticated counterfeiting crimes where they’re trying to make the bills legit. They do kind of look real, at a glance, but they’re clearly stamped.”
Due to the obvious differences, the police department believes the incident is not part of a larger counterfeit scheme. Instead, the fraudulent bill is believed to be part of a widely available variety commonly used as bank training currency in China.
“What they do in China is they use these bills to train tellers and train employees how to count American money,” Nickles said. “That’s essentially what it boils down too.”
The bills can purchased on websites like eBay, and as a result, individuals sometimes purchase the bills and then attempt to pass them as legitimate at retail locations in other countries, including the United States.
“That’s usually what we see is people trying to pass them off as real money at a retail store of some sort, and that’s exactly what happened here,” Nickles said.
According to Nickles, the Ellisville Police Department is currently pursuing the case to try and determine the origin of the bill and determine the culprit who passed it off at the local business.
“We don’t have anything to release necessarily as of right now, but we are in the process of trying to find the individual who passed it,” Nickles said.
If a resident comes across a bill believed to be counterfeit, there are multiple ways to verify its authenticity.
“They can bring it to the police station, and we’d be happy to check it,” Nickles said. “We do have those PINs. Banks have them as well. They could take it to the bank or they could bring it to the police department to make sure it’s legit.”
Nickles hopes that the situation also serves as a reminder to local business owners and retailers to continue to train employees to recognize the counterfeit bills and have protocols in place, especially for larger bills like $100s.
“Always be diligent and always be mindful that these things can and do happen,” Nickles said.