The lagging economy has hurt everyone, pressing many Floridians to their limits. With those desperate times come desperate measures. As holidays approach, authorities are on anticipating a rise in counterfeiting.
Florida remains a hotspot for this form of theft according to the U.S. Secret Service. The Orlando Sentinel reported that approximately $20,000 is removed from circulation in Central Florida in any week. During pinch times, such as holidays, that number may rise to $50,000.
Counterfeiting remains attractive to people because it can be done relatively easily, with inkjet or toner printers. Counterfeiters then pass off the fake currency in small amounts at local chain stores. Aside from local counterfeiters, the other main source of counterfeit currency is South America. Large operations in Peru and Columbia utilize professional grade presses to print bills, which are later smuggled into the state.
For those that attempt it, counterfeiting carries serious consequences. Because of the harsh penalties associated with this form of theft, anyone charged will need an aggressive criminal defense.
Central Florida Attractive for Counterfeiters
Florida is an attractive location for counterfeiters because the population is continually in flux. Tourists fly in and fly out, making the tracing of out-of-state counterfeiters difficult.
Depending on when the counterfeit bill is discovered, it could be the store or the bank that pays the price. The Secret Service advises all businesses to be on their guard for counterfeiters and to use caution when accepting currency.
Experts say counterfeiters take advantage of opportunity, and look for stores deluged with customers, whose employees are overwhelmed and struggling to stay on top of their business. The holiday season means that stores will be staffed with temporary or new employees who may not be as skilled at detecting counterfeit currency.
Detecting Counterfeit Currency
The Federal Reserve has added special security features to its currency to make it more difficult to duplicate. The addition of micro-printing, watermarks, security thread and color-shifting ink have all been developed to make counterfeiting difficult.
Still, there are tell-tale signs that can be easily detected. Make sure the portrait on the bill matches the denomination. Counterfeiters may try and pass off a smaller bill as a larger bill by bleaching off the number of a small bill and printing on the denomination of a larger bill. For example, a ten dollar bill should have the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, not George Washington, whose face appears only on one dollar bills.
Also, blue and red fibers are woven into the paper of real currency. A counterfeit dollar may only have these colors printed on the paper.
Finally, people trying to determine whether a bill is counterfeit or not should look for crispness in the printing. The portrait, border, treasure seals and serial numbers should all be clear and crisp.
Source: www.orlandosentinel.com, "Counterfeit Bills Passed More as Holidays Approach," 20 November 2011, David Breen