Counterfeit money making the rounds in Kitsap

Restaurants, espresso stands, a casino, dentist's office and a family garage sale have all seen them.

Counterfeit money is popping up more and more throughout Kitsap County, according to Deputy Scott Wilson, Kitsap County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

Wilson said the most recent wave of phony bills began showing up in May when people were "washing" $5 bills and reprinting them to look like a larger denomination, typically a $50 bill.

He said most of the counterfeit money is being passed around Central Kitsap, but other areas of the county have been hit as well.

Patrol deputies and detectives investigating the counterfeit money cases believe there's more than one counterfeit operation going on in the county, according to Wilson

"When we start getting into all this, there's always a common denominator though," he said.

Counterfeit $50 bills are what's predominantly being passed around now and a variety of things could have led to this recent uptick in counterfeit bills.

"It could be the recession, certainly drugs play a factor," Wilson said.

He said the cost of methamphetamine is up and people are desperate for money to buy the drug.

KCSO offers several tips and tricks to spotting counterfeit money:

• Look and Feel: U.S. bank notes are printed on special paper that's 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, which gives it a distinct stiffness. There are red and blue fibers embedded in the paper and bank notes are printed with a process called "intaglio" that leaves ink on top of the paper, giving the money a distinct texture. The printing is very high quality, so the lines should be sharp and clear, not broken, fuzzy or blobby.

• Color-Shifting Ink: Bank notes larger than a $5 bill use color-shifting ink to print the number showing the denomination in the lower right-hand corner. Look at the numbers head-on and from an angle. On genuine bank notes, the color will shift from copper to green or green to black.

• Watermark: All bills larger than $2 now have a watermark that is visible when held up to a light. For $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills, the image matches the portrait. Watermarks can be used to spot bills that have been bleached and reprinted with a higher denomination. The watermark is part of the paper and visible from the rear of the note as well.

• Security Thread: All bills larger than $2 have a security thread running vertically through them. The thread is visible when held up to a light and has text with the bill's denomination and an image that is unique to that denomination. Different denominations have threads in different places, so bleached and reprinted bills can be spotted. The threads also glow different colors under ultraviolet light.

Genuine bills look and feel like a U.S. bank note, have color-shifting ink, a watermark that matches the portrait and a security thread with text that matches the denomination.

Anyone who believes he or she may be in possession of counterfeit money should contact local law enforcement or their financial institution because they also are willing to help detect counterfeit money.

Anyone who has accepted counterfeit money in exchange for merchandise sold or services provided should file a case report with local law enforcement.

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