With spring comes the urge to clean out closets and basements and make some extra cash with a garage or yard sale. For some, the sales can be very profitable and fun but sellers are being warned to look at the money they are accepting for their unwanted items.
According to Detective Sgt. Tim Zale of the Oregon Police Department (OPD), the bureau has taken four reports of counterfeit bills over a two-weekend period.
“We believe it was probably the same people hitting various garage sales in the two-weekend period,” Zale said. “We imagine that they will be back and hopefully people will get a good description of the people and their vehicle.
“It is an easy way to pass counterfeit money because people are not familiar with the look of money,” Zale explained. “It is an easy way to pass it off and some of it does not look too bad.”
Zale suggested that people pay close attention to the serial numbers on the bills.
“In one case, all of the serial numbers were the same and the people did not notice it until it was too late,” Zale said. “People need to be alert when they are taking money from people. If the money feels different, look more carefully. You should be able to see a watermark on the bills as well as a visible security strip.”
Detective Sergeant Jeff Zahradnik, of the Northwood Police Department, said they have not received any complaints recently but advised that people take a very close look at money being handed to them.
“We have had nothing recently but we do receive sporadic reports now and then,” Zahradnik said. “Most of the counterfeit money I encounter has a different feel to it. It is a lot thicker and just does not feel like normal money. The color is different and the security features like the watermark are not there. People need to pay attention. If someone gives you three $20 dollar bills, look at all three of them carefully. Usually they will hide the counterfeit $20 in the middle. When people are in a hurry that is when they get caught.”
Clay Township Police Chief Roger Schultze, said he has not heard of any reports of counterfeit funds being passed, to date.
“This is the first time I am hearing of this,” Schultze said. “I can imagine that happening though.”
According to the United States Secret Service Web site, the public needs to become more familiar with United States currency. The Secret Service suggests paying particular attention to the quality of the printing as well as the special characteristics of the paper the bill is printed on.
“Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout,” the Web site advises. “Often, counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper.”
Other places to scrutinize the bill include the portrait and serial numbers.
“The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background which is often too dark or mottled,” the Web site states. “Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury Seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.”
The OPD suggests that if you suspect that you have received a counterfeit bill, try to take note of the suspect’s description and/or the type of vehicle they used. Victims are asked to report this activity as soon as possible.
Zale would also like the public to visit the police department’s Web page located on the city’s Web site, www.oregonohio.com., often.
“We have a new Web site that allows us to put new information on it within minutes,” Zale said. “The Crime Trends section allows residents to see what is going on in the city. The Web site will keep people informed of the types of crime as well as the areas where crime is occurring.”
Currently, the Crime Trend section is highlighting information concerning a rash of break-ins in cars parked on neighborhood streets as well as in public places like St. Charles Hospital, Kmart and Wal-Mart.
“People are watching you and many people do not pay attention to what is going on around them,” Zale said. “I am amazed at what people leave in their cars, in plain sight of anyone looking in. We have had reports of jewelry, purses and laptops being taken. People are very trusting and they think that just because their car is locked it is safe. People can break into a car window easily. It does not make a lot of noise. They can use a window punch, which anyone can buy. The punch just makes a small ‘pop‘ noise and they are in.”
ID theft and what to do when your wallet or purse are stolen is also highlighted on the website.
“ID theft causes a lot of grief and it takes up a lot of time, Zale said. “There is a ton of info on ID theft, how to deal with it, who to call and a victim procedure form. The more information a victim can give us, the better it is. It speeds up the process for us.”