GPD warns of counterfeit money

Published 3:50 pm Friday, December 8, 2017

An unnamed bank has notified the Greenville Police Department of counterfeit $20 and $100 bills currently circulating in the Greenville area.

Unlike whitewashed bills, which can be more difficult to detect, these bills have For Motion Picture Use Only or Motion Picture Purposes written in large letters.

“We had trouble with these [same bills] two or three years ago,” said Greenville Police Lieutenant Joe Disney. 

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The bills are apparently props used for movies or TV shows, easily identifiable as fake to the naked eye. Banks keep counterfeit bills they receive and turn them directly into the Secret Service.

Very few of the usual identifiers of real money appear on the For Motion Picture Use Only bills. Whitewashed cash is harder to identify, as they are created through a process of bleaching lower-denomination bills and printing relatively realistic recreations of $100 notes on top.

In these cases, the paper itself is real, but the holograms that appear when a bill is held up to the light, as well as other identifiers such as the blue security ribbon, will not be recreated accurately.

“On the $100 bill, Benjamin Franklin’s face is a hologram,” explained Disney, “and there is a hologram that will say USA 100… The strips are hard to fake, and the holograms are, I guess, impossible to fake.”

Many newer bills also feature color-shifting ink that is very difficult for counterfeiters to recreate. This ink can be verified by tilting $20, $50, and $100 dollar bills dated 1996 and onward.

The police department doesn’t know exactly where the counterfeit motion picture bills are coming from, but suggested that counterfeiters could possibly be buying them in bulk.

“Atlanta seems to be a hub for them, though I don’t think that’s where they’re being made. People will go up there and buy $4,000 or $5,000 [of fake money] for 50 bucks,” said Disney.

A reasonably small amount of the money was actually accepted by local businesses and caught by banks.

Paying attention when accepting money, by both using a pen made for the identification of counterfeits and checking the various watermarks and identifiers, can help halt the circulation of fake bills within the community.

The Secret Service also offers a detailed guide to spotting counterfeit money on their website.