Counterfeiters hit Birch Run retailers with doctored $50 bills

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BIRCH RUN (WJRT) (12/6/17) - The Grinch has been showing up in Birch Run.

Police there say a number of counterfeit $50 bills have been used at area retail stores.

They look and feel like the real thing, which shows how counterfeiters are getting crafty. They're ruining perfectly good $10 bills and creating fake $50 bills in the process.

"They have a bleaching process that they use and they basically wash the bill to the point where the only thing that's left on the bill is the watermark and the security strip," said Al Swearengin, Birch Run police chief.

The criminals then print a very good replica of the $50 bill onto the $10 bill. Unless a retailer is paying very close attention, the bill will be easily accepted. It even passes the security pen test

But if the person behind the counter takes the time to look at the security strip or the watermark, the original denomination can be seen. Ultraviolet light makes it easy to see the security strip.

The U.S. Treasury Department told Birch Run Police a number of these fake $50 bills have shown up recently in the deposits made by area retailers. In an ideal world, the store clerk would check each and every bill, especially the larger denominations.

But clerks are often rushed and some feel it would irritate the customer if they took the time to examine the bills to see if they are counterfeit.

There are electronic devices available that can make checking the authenticity of the bill easier without making the customer feel uncomfortable. Swearengin said every business that handles cash should consider getting one.

"It's called a counterfeit bill scanner. You put the bill in it. It pulls it in, pulls it right back out and then there's a little red and green light on top. It pops on green if it's a good bill and it pops red if it's bad," Swearengin said.

That scanner costs about $16. One Saginaw County businessman told Swearengin he was going to buy several for his stores.

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