ROCKINGHAM — Police are dealing with another rash of funny money.
Investigators say several counterfeit $10-bills have been passed off at local businesses and to residents in the city limits.
A post on the Rockingham Police Department’s Facebook page from Monday night shows front and back photos of the ersatz currency.
“Notice all bills have the same serial numbers and a white oval spot with nothing written in the space,” the post reads. “If anyone attempts to pass these type of bills, please notify the police immediately and attempt to get (a) description of the suspects and vehicle with tag number that they may be traveling in.”
Last month, officers were investigating multiple counterfeit cases, where the bills were “obvious fakes” — not only because of the poor paper quality, but also because the words “FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY” was stamped to the right of Benjamin Franklin’s head, where “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” should be. The same words were also printed on the left where the indication that it is a Federal Reserve Note should be, as well as on the back.
In those cases, police said it appeared the suspects were targeting stores and drive-thru windows at night, passing off the counterfeit cash in denominations of $5, $10, $20 and $100.
Officers encourage business owners to tell their employees not rely solely on marking pens to determine if a bill is legitimate because some counterfeit bills are copied onto bleached smaller currency.
Police in Hamlet say they have also had problems with mock money, but details weren’t available Tuesday night.
In August, Rockingham Detective Shawn Paxton said the department had received about 60 cases of bogus bills within six months — nearly doubling the amount from the same time frame the previous year. In all of 2014, the department experienced only 14 counterfeit reports.
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.