Is that $10 bill in your wallet real or a fake?

Police in Ocean City have recently investigated several reports of phony money showing up.

According to Robert Digiuseppe, the agent in charge of the Secret Service in Atlantic City, reports of counterfeit currency showing up down the shore or in other parts of the Garden State are not unusual, so it’s a good idea to check your cash, make sure it’s real, and be on the lookout for money that’s not.

Digiuseppe stressed the counterfeit money problem in New Jersey is no worse than the rest of the country.

“Even given the casinos and money that passes there, Atlantic City is pretty average,” he said.

How do you know if currency is real?

“If someone suspects they’ve got a phony bill the best thing for them to do is to compare it to a genuine bill. Whether it’s a $5 bill, a $20 bill, they will always see a watermark of the president or the person that is on the bill,” he said. “I think everybody that handles money knows that standard feel of what money feels like.”

He also pointed out “there’s a strip that’s embedded in the paper. If you hold it up to the light you will be able to see there’s a strip in the bill. That will thwart a lot of the counterfeit that’s made on an inkjet printer.”

Digiuseppe added that “one of the oldest ways to know it’s a genuine bill, there’s some red and blue fibers that are embedded in the bill, again that’s how the paper is made, and you can also use a UV light to check a bill. The magnetic strip will glow a certain color.”

(To learn more you can visit the Secret Service website, http://www.secretservice.gov/data/KnowYourMoneyApril08.pdf )

If you think you do have counterfeit money, what’s next?

“You can call the Secret Service directly or your local police department. They know that if they receive a call about counterfeit currency that they should also contact us as well,” he said.

Digiuseppe says whenever authorities locate counterfeit money it’s taken out of circulation immediately and “unfortunately, the person that last has the bill is out the money."

He said trying to get rid of fake money by trying pass it off to someone else is a bad idea because “now you knowingly passed a counterfeit bill, and it’s a crime. If you know, or have an idea that it’s counterfeit, and you decide to pass it off to someone else, then there’s intent that you now passed a counterfeit bill."

He says in most cases this kind of crime is usually handled at the local level.

“It would be a misdemeanor crime. However, if there’s multiple passes then we would defer those kinds of questions to the U.S. attorney,” he said.

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