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Check your currency: ‘prop’ bills found locally

Counterfeit money from China is pictured. The red writing that can be found on the counterfeit bills is circled, which Detective Lt. Greg Kinonen from the Marquette Police Department said loosely translates to prop money. The fraud currency has been seen multiple times throughout the city of Marquette. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Police Department)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Police Department is reminding everyone to check their paper currency for authenticity.

An MPD Facebook post states the department “has received multiple complaints of counterfeit/fraudulent bills being passed in the city of Marquette. Most of the bills recently reported are marked with Chinese printing … The bills also lack the proper dimensions and security features found on legitimate paper currency.”

MPD Detective Lt. Greg Kinonen said that while counterfeit bills are present in the community, the department is trying to get ahead of the problem.

“We want the community aware that they’re out there,” Kinonen said. “Sometimes we’ll see rashes of them where they’ll just get spent around town. We’ll spend a long time trying to clean them up and get them out of circulation.”

The bills seen most recently come from China and are “prop money” people are trying to pass as American currency. The department has been in contact with the United States Secret Service, which tracks all counterfeit bills.

According to the Secret Service, this is a fairly common problem and the bills have been seen throughout the country, Kinonen said.

U.S. currency has many security features that identify authenticity including watermarks, security threads, serial numbers and more, but the best way to verify your bills is by checking for color-shifting ink, Kinonen said.

The ink mark can be found on 2004-style $10, $20 and $50 bills in the bottom right corner of the bill. The denomination of the bill can be seen in a copper color ink that shifts to a green color when tilted 45 degrees. The 2004-style $100 bills have a color shifting “bell in the inkwell,” a Know Your Money document from uscurrency.gov and secretservice.gov states.

“What it will do is it’ll shift color. I haven’t seen counterfeiters be able to replicate that yet,” Kinonen said. “There are occasions where bills are bleached like they’ll take (a) $1 bill and bleach it white and then print like a $100 bill on it. And the pen test, they test the starch in the paper and those will come up that it’s a real bill. So the best way to tell is the color-shifting ink and it’s the quickest way to identify a counterfeit bill.”

U.S. currency is made up of 25% linen and 75% cotton and has small red and blue security fibers randomly dispersed throughout the paper, the Know Your Money document states.

Once a bill is deemed counterfeit, the department will investigate, officials said.

“We investigate to see if we can narrow down where it came from, to identify suspects that are involved,” Kinonen said. “The best way for us to investigate that though is when stores or businesses recognize that it is counterfeit and try to identify the person or whatnot so we can make that connection.”

Kinonen encourages everyone to check their bills and to call the Marquette City Police Department at 906-228-0400 if they suspect they have received any counterfeit money.

To see the graphic that identifies all the security measures on U.S. currency, visit the Marquette Police Department on Facebook.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.