By Jacob Mathias
Many Stevens Point Area businesses have seen counterfeit $20 bills cross their counters in the past three weeks with the 10th victim reported Thursday morning.
The most recent victim of the counterfeit bills is a TNT Fireworks tent on Division St.
“I’m getting a counterfeit pen later today,” said Lee Berg, manager of the fireworks tent.
He said he didn’t recall any other details about the counterfeit transaction nor who may have passed it on.
“It gets very difficult because we don’t know who’s passing them,” said Stevens Point Police Department Sergeant Paul Piotrowski. “If somebody would go to a business like Target, if they’d notice it right away, we’d have video.”
He said no one has noticed the counterfeit bills before they are deposited in the bank where they are flagged as counterfeit.
“The quality of the paper’s not as good and the ink tends to smear a little bit if you rub the bill,” said Piotrowski. “The other way to tell is it’s not going to have the security thread that runs through all the U.S. currency and there’s no water marks in the paper that they’re using.”
The bills have been used at high volume cash location that wouldn’t have training in handling money such as church picnics and bars.
“Businesses need to remember to use their markers that can swipe across the bill. That marker will either turn brown and remain clear,” said Piotrowski. “If they’re checking the bills that way, they should be able to find out that they’re getting fake money passed to them. And just be vigilant.”
Other businesses who have reported counterfeit bills include Belts’ Ice Cream, Saint Peter’s Parish, 2nd Street Pub, Brickhouse Tavern, Saint Stephen’s Parish, the YMCA, Target, Erbert and Gerbert’s and Guu’s on Main.
“This weekend will be Riverfront Rendezvous and there will be all kinds of non-profits selling food and stuff,” said Piotrowski. “I would not be surprised that we see some taken by a nonprofit over the weekend.”
He said up to 10 bills have been passed at one location, the St. Peter’s Parish picnic.
Piotrowski said those using the bills would either be an individual or a small group of two to three people.
Those printing and passing the bills face theft and forgery charges resulting in up to five years in prison.