ROCKINGHAM — A recent surge in the circulation of counterfeit currency has police warning local businesses and residents to be on the lookout for the funny money.
“The Rockingham Police Department has experienced a dramatic increase in calls and reports regarding counterfeit money,” Detective Shawn Paxton said in a Wednesday statement. “Over the past six months, the (department) has received approximately 60 cases involving counterfeit money, which is nearly double during the same time frame last year.”
In all of 2014, the department experienced only 14 counterfeit reports, Paxton added.
“Much of the money we receive is coming from bank deposits from local businesses in the county or from the local businesses themselves,” he said.
According to the detective, the department wants to reach out to local businesses and urge them to use counterfeit-detecting pens.
On Feb. 25, the department posted on its website that investigators had received several older counterfeit $100 bills that had been used at retail stores within the Rockingham area.
According to the post, some of the fake bills had matching serial numbers — but not all of them — and had been made by bleaching a $5 bill and copying a $100 bill onto the federal reserve notes. With those bills, pens used to check the validity of the currency are useless.
In May, the department posted that officers had taken reports of counterfeit $20 bills, which Paxton said has made up for bulk of the cases.
The department, in conjunction with the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce, has also set up the Business Alert Program, an effort to keep participants in the loop on ongoing investigations and information concerning counterfeiting, scams and schemes, shoplifting and other fraudulent activities by using email and fax alerts from the criminal investigations division.
Anyone with questions about the program or counterfeiting is encouraged to visit the department’s website, www.gorockinghampd.com, or call 910-895-2468.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.