Police aren't laughing at funny money in Juneau

Officials say $1,750 in counterfeit bills given to businesses

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Juneau Police Investigator Russ Haight rubbed the counterfeit $100 bill between his gloved fingers.

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"It's a lot stiffer than even a brand new bill," he said. "It's stiffer, and it's thicker."

Some $1,750 worth of fake money passed into Juneau businesses last week, Haight said Monday. It was all in counterfeit $100 bills and $50 bills, he said.

Since the investigation is continuing, he declined to go into much detail. However, he said, police have surveillance evidence and have "developed a few suspects." Federal authorities are also involved.

Juneau businesses reported receiving the fake cash in payments between Wednesday and Friday. Police declined to identify the businesses or say more about how the bills were passed.

Judging from the thickness of a $100 bill in evidence, Haight theorized that the culprits may have glued two pieces of paper together to form the counterfeit cash. Reproducing the paper used to make dollar bills is illegal.

Police urged businesspeople to look closely at bills for authentic water marks and security strips.

Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Close inspection often reveals that counterfeit bills have red and blue lines merely printed on the surface.

Fake bills "pop up once in a while" in Juneau, Haight said. Many businesses use watermark pens to determine whether bills are real, he added.

Anyone with information about the bogus money is asked to call the police at 586-0600.

• Ken Lewis can be reached at ken.lewis@juneauempire.com.

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