Police warn of fake bills passed in Manistee County

Police say fake bills are popping up all over northern Michigan. Some of the bills say “for motion picture use only.” (Courtesy Photo)

MANISTEE COUNTY — Authorities are warning Manistee County residents and business owners to be on the lookout for counterfeit money.

The Manistee County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint on Monday morning about a counterfeit $20 bill that was passed at the Parkdale Wesco gas station.

A past complaint was also reported at the end of December in the Wellston area. Both investigations remain open.

Lt. Brian Gutowski, emergency management coordinator of the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office, said the bills that were passed say “motion picture use only” or have the words “copy money” printed on it.

“We want to make sure that Manistee residents are aware that this activity has made its way into our area, as the majority of other reports were from areas north of us,” Gutowski said.

Various businesses in northern Michigan have seen similar reports in the past few months.

Grand Traverse and Charlevoix counties are two additional locations in which reports of fake $100 bills being passed have recently surfaced. In Manistee County, Gutowski said the bogus bills could have come from anyone.

“People who pass bills that are counterfeit will leave their normal area in hopes that they won’t be recognized,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that there is a targeted area, but it’s possible for this type of activity to pop up just about anywhere.”

According to Michigan law — Section 750.253 “uttering counterfeit notes as true” — passing counterfeit money is a felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine by up to $2,500.

Police are warning businesses to check currency before it is accepted.

To verify a bill, hold it up to a light and search for a hologram image of a face. Both images should match. This method would also reveal a thin vertical strip containing the bill’s denomination.

If the $100 bill has been bleached, the hologram will display an image of Abraham Lincoln of the $5 bill, instead of Benjamin Franklin.

While there are many ways to verify money, Gutowski said businesses should be checking regularly.

“We would encourage business owners to use the money marker pens, which will immediately indicate whether money is counterfeit or real,” he said. “The employees who take in this counterfeit cash will typically say things like, ‘it didn’t look right’ or ‘it just didn’t feel right.’

“If you get that feeling, take an extra look at the cash and use the marker pen to ensure it’s real.”

Oftentimes, he said, people do not think counterfeit money will be passed at their business.

“Catching the individuals who are perpetrating these crimes can often be difficult,” Gutowski said. “Sometimes the cash will change hands several times before someone realizes that it’s a counterfeit. Having businesses check the cash they receive immediately will help prevent losses.”

Anyone who believes they have received counterfeit money or know someone who has passed and/or attempted to pass fake bills, should contact Manistee County Central Dispatch at (231) 723-6241 to file a complaint.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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